The Conversations at The Interval

We've moved our talks to a virtual format for now and to share them with a wider audience, the live streams are now public on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Long Now Live. All of our upcoming talks are listed on the Long Now site and we also have a public event calendar that you can subscribe to.

We continue to release media from all of our talks and you can follow the series by subscribing to the podcasts, watching the videos and highlights and connecting with Long Now on our social channels.

Long Now is able to continue our work thanks to the ongoing support of members and donors. Please consider joining our global community of long-term thinkers. Membership starts at just $8/month and takes two minutes to set up. Special one-time donations are also appreciated, and all of your support will help us foster more long-term thinking. Thank you so much.

Previous Salon Talks

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality Performance Lecture

Alicia Escott, Heidi Quante

March 12, 02024

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality is a participatory artwork facilitated by artist Alicia Escott and Heidi Quante which collaborates with the public to create new words for feelings and experiences for which no words yet exist. Recognizing the climate crisis is causing new feelings and experiences that have yet to be named, the project was created with a deep focus on these and other Anthropocenic phenomena. The Bureau views the words created in this process as also serving as points of connectivity: advancing understanding, dialogue, and conversations about the greater concepts these words seek to codify.

Indigenous Sovereign Futures

Jonathan Cordero

February 6, 02024

Alternative visions for social change rooted in the frameworks of capitalism and colonialism only reproduce contemporary structures of power. How can indigenous perspectives and knowledge inform the structural transformation necessary to improve the health of the natural world and of human communities?

Embodied Economies: How our Economic Stories Shape the World

Denise Hearn

January 23, 02024

Economic policy can seem abstract and distant, but it manifests the physical world – affecting us all. Our economic stories shape our systems, and they in turn shape us. What myths continue to constrain us, and how might new stories emerge to scaffold the future? This talk will explore concepts we often take as gospel: profits, competition, economic value, efficiency, and others -- and asks how we might reshape them to better serve planetary flourishing –today, and well into the future.

Hijacked Histories, Polarized Futures

Abby Smith Rumsey

October 10, 02023

As authoritarianism continues to rise around the world, the stories we tell ourselves about our collective history become a battleground for competing visions of the future. Drawing extensively from Russian history in the 20th century, Rumsey offers a framework to discuss our current social and political tensions and how our increasing polarization could shape our future.

Resisting Dystopia

Annalee Newitz, Becky Chambers

April 18, 02023

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

Psychedelics: History at the Crossroads

Ismail Ali

February 14, 02023

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

How to Invent Everything

Ryan North

January 31, 02023

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

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

Johanna Hoffman

October 12, 02022

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

Space Debris and The Kessler Syndrome: A Possible Future Trapped on Earth

Creon Levit

April 26, 02022

More than one hundred million pieces of human-made space debris currently orbit our planet, most moving at more than 10,000 mph. Every year their number increases, creating a progressively more dangerous environment for working spacecraft. In order to operate in space, we track most of this debris through a patchwork of private efforts and government defense networks. Creon Levit spent over three decades at NASA, and is now the Director of R&D at Planet, a company that is imaging the earth everyday with one of the largest swarms of micro-satellites in the world. Creon will discuss the history of space debris, the way the debris is currently tracked, and how we might work to reduce it before we see a cascading effect of ballistic interactions that could render low orbit all but unusable.

Engram Preservation: Early Work Towards Mind Uploading

Robert McIntyre

February 11, 02020

Is it possible to preserve and read memories after someone has died? Robert McIntyre thinks it is, and that the technology is closer than most people realize. His company Nectome is working on documenting the physical properties of memory formation, and studying ways to preserve those physical properties after death. McIntyre has already won the Brain Preservation Institutes' "Small Mammal" & "Large Mammal" prizes for preserving a full brain down to the synaptic level, and is now taking the next steps in figuring out how to decode those synapses. These are early experiments, but this is the type of work that will be required if we are someday able to preserve a mind and memories past biological death.

24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week

Tiffany Shlain

January 21, 02020

As the world is becoming more technologically connected, finding time for oneself and face-to-face connections is becoming increasingly difficult.  Many of our talks at Long Now have aimed to help expand our collective now by centuries or even millennia, but what about our personal present?  Tiffany Shlain's new book 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week discusses one way to slow down and be more engaged: a technological shabbat, or day of rest. She will be explaining some of the neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and history of this 3000 year old concept, and how it can help promote creativity in our busy world.

Gods and Robots: Ancient Dreams of Technology

Adrienne Mayor

November 12, 02019

Millennia before engineering or software, robots and
 artificial intelligence were brought to life in Greek myths. The author of Gods and Robots Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology traces the link between technology and tyranny from modern day concerns over AI to back to antiquities fear of beings were "made, not born.”

We're in the Wrong Timeline

Annalee Newitz

November 5, 02019

Annalee Newitz's new novel, The Future of Another Timeline, is about time travelers in an edit war over history. But it's also about using stories to change the course of civilization. Annalee will discuss the idea of time travel, as well as the extensive scientific and historical research they did for the novel. 

The Loop: Decision Technology and How to Resist It

Jacob Ward

October 8, 02019

If we use AI to write our favorite music for us, will we lose the ability to write music ourselves? If an AI coach keeps divorced parents from arguing by text, can they get along without it? If the only novels and screenplays that get a green light are the ones that AI believes match up with past hits, will we wind up reading and watching the same thing over and over?

In this conversation, NBC’s Jacob Ward, will describe the loop: the endless feedback cycle of pattern-recognition that threatens to collapse the complexity of human behavior into a predictable set of patterns across politics, entertainment, relationships, and art itself. Why is the loop so powerful? Why do companies keep empowering it? And what can we, as private citizens, do to resist its pull?

Jacob Ward is a Berggruen Fellow at Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS), co-sponsor of this talk.

Jacob Ward is technology correspondent for NBC News, where he reports on-air for Nightly News with Lester Holt, MSNBC, and The TODAY Show. The former editor-in-chief of Popular Science magazine, Ward was Al Jazeera’s science and technology correspondent from 02013 to 02018, and has hosted investigative documentaries for Discovery, National Geographic, and PBS. As a writer, Ward has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Wired, and many other publications. His ten-episode Audible podcast, Complicated, discusses humanity’s most difficult problems, and he’s the host of an upcoming four-hour public television series, “Hacking Your Mind,” about human decision making and irrationality.

Ward is a 02018-19 Berggruen Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, where he’s writing The Loop: Decision Technology and How to Resist It, due for publication by Hachette Book Group in 02020. The book explores how artificial intelligence and other decision-shaping technologies will amplify good and bad human instincts.

ORIGINS - How Earth’s history shaped human history

Lewis Dartnell

September 10, 02019

From the cultivation of the first crops to the founding of modern states, the human story is the story of environmental forces, from plate tectonics and climate change, to atmospheric circulation and ocean currents.

Professor Lewis Dartnell will dive into the planet’s deep past, where history becomes science, to explore a web of connections that underwrites our modern world, and that can help us face the challenges of the future.

Lewis Dartnell is a Professor of Science Communication at the University of Westminster. Before that, he completed his biology degree at the University of Oxford and his PhD at UCL, and then worked as the UK Space Agency research fellow at the University of Leicester, studying astrobiology and searching for signs of life on Mars. He has won several awards for his science writing and contributes to the Guardian, The Times, and New Scientist. He is also the author of three books. He lives in London, UK.

Horological Heritage: Generating bird song, magic, and music through mechanism

Brittany Cox

August 20, 02019

From kings and philosophers to craftsmen and inventors, horology has been prized as an extraordinary marriage between art and science. Antiquarian Horologist Brittany Nicole Cox will share her unique experience with objects born from this lineage. We will trace their origins to discover how these objects serve as critical mirrors in a world of accelerated discovery.

Her lifelong passion for horology has seen her through nine years in higher education where she earned her WOSTEP, CW21, and SAWTA watchmaking certifications, two clockmaking certifications, and a Masters in the Conservation of Clocks and Related Dynamic Objects from West Dean College, UK. In 2015 she opened Memoria Technica, an independent workshop where she teaches, practices guilloché, and specializes in the conservation of automata, mechanical magic, mechanical music, and complicated clocks and watches. Her original work has been exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and she is currently working on a series of bestiary automata inspired by illuminated texts and a manuscript to be published by Penguin Press.

The Shape Of Data And Things To Come

Gurjeet Singh

August 6, 02019

Big Data promises unparalleled insights, but the larger the data, the harder they are to find. The key to unlocking them was discovered by mathematicians in the 18th century. A modern mathematician explains how to find patterns in data with new algorithms for old math.

Neal Stephenson - Fall, or Dodge in Hell

Neal Stephenson

June 6, 02019

Neal Stephenson author of Fall, or Dodge in Hell in conversation with Long Now Board Member, Kevin Kelly.

Growing Up Ape: The Long-term Science of Studying Our Closest Living Relatives

Elizabeth Lonsdorf

April 30, 02019

Studying primates offers insight into human evolution and behavior. Primatologist Elizabeth Lonsdorf shares her ongoing work with wild chimpanzees
 and gorillas: a unique long-term project that extends the seminal research
 by Jane Goodall and colleagues into the 21st century. Modern humans wean years earlier than African apes, a fact that is associated with several unique behaviors of being human (involving fertility, brain development, and life span). But our understanding of weaning in apes is actually quite limited. Dr Lonsdorf uses new technology and tools to better understand chimpanzee and gorilla development, and in the process learn more about us.

Can Nationalism be a Resource for Democracy?

Maya Tudor

April 16, 02019

A political scientist examines how foundational nationalisms affect democracy globally, using countries like India and Myanmar to illustrate that some kinds of nationalism can be an essential resource for protecting democracy.

Charting the High Frontier of Space

Ed Lu

March 19, 02019

Throughout human history, mapping has been the key to the opening of new frontiers. Mapping of previously uncharted regions has enabled economic expansion and the development of new markets, science, and defense. For similar reasons, mapping the locations and trajectories of the millions of uncharted asteroids in our solar system is the key to opening the space frontier. This four-dimensional space map will be crucial to the economic development of space, the protection of the Earth from asteroid impacts, and to understanding the origin and evolution of Earth. Join Dr. Ed Lu, former NASA astronaut, co-founder of B612 Foundation and the current Executive Director of the Asteroid Institute as he makes the case for the need to chart the high frontier of space and learn how you can help.

The Evolving Science of Behavior Change

Christopher Bryan

February 19, 02019

Human civilization is used to being saved by technology. The 20th century was defined by humanity’s ability to invent a pill, vaccine, or device to overcome our biggest challenges. Today, many of the most serious threats to human health well-being require large-scale changes in individual behavior. The problem is people are really bad at prioritizing long-term goals over their immediate desires and the science of behavior change is still badly underdeveloped. Christopher Bryan's recent research suggests we can motivate long-lasting behavior change by aligning around values. He'll explain how it works.

The Science of Climate Fiction: Can Stories Lead to Social Action?

James Holland Jones

January 29, 02019

The warming planet is increasingly the subject of all kinds of fiction. Beyond entertainment or distraction could climate fiction (“Cli-Fi”) actually help us in solving the climate dilemma? Biological anthropologist and environmental scientist James Holland Jones explains the neuroscience of narrative: storytelling fits the human brain. Stories might be useful in bringing popular attention to climate and inspiring action on environmental issues.

Siberia: A Journey to the Mammoth Steppe

Kevin Kelly, Stewart Brand, Alexander Rose

January 22, 02019

In August of 02018, Long Now founder Stewart Brand, renowned geneticist George Church, and a delegation of observers and scientists traveled to one of Earth's most remote places to witness the ongoing restoration of a part of Siberia back to its Pleistocene-era ecosystem. The team brought back DNA samples to evaluate for mammoth de-extinction, and lots of photos, video, and stories of a place where climate change and arctic deep time can be witnessed at once. At this event Long Now's Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly, and Alexander Rose will be joined by filmmakers David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg to discuss the trip and the things they learned along the way.

Learning From Le Guin

Kim Stanley Robinson

November 13, 02018

The legacy of Ursula K Le Guin lives beyond the page
 in generations of writers who have learned from her. She used fantastic fiction to imagine ideals for the real world. Kim Stanley Robinson, her student 40 years ago and now a celebrated science fiction writer himself, reflects on Le Guin the teacher, 
her impact on his work, and how she changed the world.

How to Be Futuristic

Bruce Sterling

October 16, 02018

The future is a kind of history that hasn’t happened yet. The past is a kind of future that has already happened. The present moment vanishes before it can be described. Language, a human invention, lacks the power to fully adhere to reality.

San Francisco Time: The Photography of Fred Lyon

Fred Lyon

October 2, 02018

Fred Lyon is a time traveler with a camera and tales to tell. At 94-years-old, this former LIFE magazine photographer and fourth generation San Franciscan has an eye for the city and stories to match. We showed photos from Fred's books San Francisco, Portrait of a City: 1940-1960 and San Francisco Noir, and images spanning his diverse career. In conversation he'll discuss his art, work, and life; recollections of old friends like Herb Caen and Trader Vic Bergeron; and more. He shared his unique perspective after nearly a century in San Francisco.

Exploring the Artificial Cryosphere

Nicola Twilley

September 18, 02018

The invisible backbone of our food system is a man-made, distributed, and perpetual winter of refrigeration we've built for our food to live in. It has remade our entire relationship with food, for better and in some ways for worse. The time has come for us all to explore the mysteries of the artificial cryosphere. We need to understand refrigeration's scope and impact in order to take stock of what’s at stake and make sure that the many benefits of our network of thermal control outweigh the enormous costs. Nicola Twilley is writing the first comprehensive look at the global cold chain, due out in 02019.

The Art and Science of Deep Time:
Conceiving the Inconceivable in the 19th Century

Caroline Winterer

September 4, 02018

The ambition to think on the scale of thousands, millions, even billion of years emerged in the 19th century. Historian and author Caroline Winterer chronicles how the concept of “deep time” has inspired and puzzled thinkers in cognitive science, art, geology (and elsewhere) to become one of the most 
influential ideas of the modern era.

Is Reflecting Sunlight from the Atmosphere a Bridge to the Future?

Kelly Wanser

August 14, 02018

Recent data shows damage from climate change rapidly increasing. There are many scientifically proposed methods (from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.K. Royal Society, and the American Geophysical Union among others) for directly reducing atmospheric heat. Yet to date there are still no formal research programs or capabilities to further explore these geoengineering ideas. What are the potential risks and benefits? How do we balance this effort vs. emissions reduction and restoring the natural system?
 Kelly Wanser of SilverLining discusses her work advocating, educating and coordinating research on this important effort to combat climate change.

A Foundation of Trust: Building a Blockchain Future

Brian Behlendorf

July 31, 02018

An Open Source pioneer, Brian Behlendorf now leads the effort to
 build the infrastructure for trust as a service. In the past he helped build the foundations of the Web with the Apache Foundation and brought Open Source to the enterprise with At The Interval he’ll discuss his current work leading Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation to unlock blockchain’s potential beyond cryptocurrency.

The Short Now: What Addiction, Day Trading, and Most of Society’s Ills Have in Common

Esther Dyson

July 17, 02018

Long Now board member Esther Dyson shares her ongoing work to move communities away from short-term thinking and into health. In conversation with previous Interval speaker Kara Platoni, she discusses how short-term desire is addiction, affecting not just individuals but institutions and culture. Dyson’s founded the 10-year Wellville project, now underway in five communities across the US, to tap into people’s natural resilience and build long-term desire: purpose.

The Spirit Singularity: Science and the Afterlife at the Turn of the 20th Century

Hannu Rajaniemi

July 10, 02018

Scifi author, scientist, and entrepreneur Hannu Rajaniemi discusses the real life late Victorian attempts to map the afterlife which inspired Summerland, his latest novel.

Facts, Feelings and Stories: How to Motivate Action on Climate Change

Shahzeen Attari

June 26, 02018

An environmental researcher examines perceptions of energy use & conservation and asks how we can inspire behavioral change and policy support in individuals and the public at large. With a background in environmental engineering and training in cognitive science, Dr. Attari searches for the narratives that can help us improve our environmental decision-making

Words from the Crowd: The Collaboration
That Made The Oxford English Dictionary

Sarah Ogilvie

May 15, 02018

The world's first crowd-sourced project, the first Edition OED took 70 years and the work of hundreds of people to complete. Dr Sarah Ogilvie (Stanford) shares the untold stories of the volunteers who created the Oxford English Dictionary from her new research.

Science Needs Fiction

Annalee Newitz

May 8, 02018

Science fiction does more than predict future inventions. Stories are a testbed for exploring the unexpected ways people could incorporate technology into their cultures. Science journalist and novelist Annalee Newitz will discuss how scientists, innovators, and the rest of us benefit from the crucible of imaginative fictions.

Modern Surveillance: Why You Should Care and What You Can Do

Jennifer Granick

April 17, 02018

The future of privacy begins with the current state of surveillance. The 21st century practices of US intelligence agencies push the technological, legal and political limits of lawful surveillance. Jennifer Granick is a civil liberties and privacy law expert with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who is the perfect guide to how the system works and the technological and political means we have to defend our privacy.

Disinformation Technology: How Online Propaganda Campaigns Are Influencing Us

Renée DiResta

April 10, 02018

Clandestine influence campaigns are rampant on social media. Whether pushing Russian agitprop or lies about vaccines, they can impact policy and make us question what is true. A technologist, Wall Street veteran, and citizen advisor to Congress, DiResta will tell us how bad it is and some things we can do.

Time Poverty Amidst Digital Abundance

Judy Wajcman

March 27, 02018

Technology’s promise is to “save” time. Its track record in real and psychological terms is often the opposite. A sociologist of science and technology, Judy Wajcman continues her examinations of time pressure and acceleration in the digital age. 
Her latest work considers how calendar software interacts
 with the existing anxieties of our digitally driven lives.

Terra Incognita: Exploring the Earth's Most Remote Places

Christopher Michel

March 6, 02018

Christopher Michel has traveled literally to the ends of the Earth. From the North Pole to Antarctica and even 70,000 feet up into near space. He brings back evidence and observations from his travels. “Big Here” is the corollary to the Long Now, from Brian Eno's original essay, and Chris will truly expand our knowledge of this planet with his talk and photos from his journeys.

Engineering Biology for Social Scales

Megan Palmer

February 6, 02018

Our century’s frontier is biological: how can we best set our course to take life forward? Megan Palmer, a scientist and engineer by training, now focuses on where synthetic biology meets (and will meet) policy. She'll discuss her work
 on standards and practices to assure synthetic biology
 will be safe, responsible and good for the world.

Ethics as Optimization:
ReThinking Technology and the Near Long Term

Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi

January 30, 02018

New technologies can change the lives of individuals and disrupt businesses and markets. They also may bring up moral questions, both new and everlasting. The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi will discuss ethics, governance
 and moral purpose in our time of dawning AI (and into the future).

Another Pale Blue Dot: Inside SETI Institute’s Search for Exoplanets

Franck Marchis

January 16, 02018

New science and tech are vastly accelerating
 the search for exoplanets: an effort that’s only decades old. How long until we find Earth 2.0? SETI Institute’s Senior Planetary Astronomer will update us 
on the latest work to find planets like Earth.

What’s The Future? It’s Up to Us.

Tim O'Reilly

January 9, 02018

Based on four decades in technology and media, constantly in the eye of innovation, O’Reilly is starting vital conversations about our future. Be ready for keen details on how we got here, a frank assessment of emerging challenges, and a bold call to action for the sake of the generations on the horizon.

Can Democracy Survive the Internet?

Nathaniel Persily

November 28, 02017

The Internet was once seen as a democratizing force, but today social media platforms have become exploitable intermediaries of political discourse. How should governments, institutions and tech companies respond? In the wake of an Internet-mediated and norm-breaking 
election, we've asked one of the United States' premier election law experts to speak for us about what comes next.

An Additive Electronics Revolution

Janos Veres

November 14, 02017

An R&D update from PARC, the legendary research lab. Janos Veres who heads up PARC’s Novel and Printed Electronics team discusses the materials, processes, and vision that enable the printable electronics of our near future. Joined in conversation with PARC designer, and previous Interval speaker, Mike Kuniavsky.

After On: Emergent Fiction from the Technology of our Moment

Rob Reid

October 24, 02017

A veteran entrepreneur turns a satirical eye on Silicon Valley in his new science fiction novel. Rob Reid’s latest book "After On" was written in part at The Interval and actually features our establishment in the story. Set in present day San Francisco, the story includes an app gone wild, super AI risk, the promise & peril of synthetic biology, and lone wolf terrorism. But it’s only scifi, right?

Journalism in an Age of Misinformation and Centralization

Dan Gillmor

October 17, 02017

As lying dominates politics and highly centralized entities increasingly control our media: is there any hope for honest news? These dual trends are a direct threat to our core liberties, including freedom of speech and assembly. Dan Gillmor will discuss where journalism goes from here and what, as media consumer-practitioners, we all can do.

The Secret Life of Lightning: The Science of Giant Tesla Coils

Greg Leyh

September 26, 02017

Nikola Tesla’s wireless electrical system is more than a high voltage spectacle. Experiments with Tesla coils could help explain important questions about how lightning works. Bay Area citizen scientist Greg Leyh has built the largest
 Tesla coils in the world in his quest to better understand the physics of lightning.

The Organized Pursuit of Knowledge

Margaret Levi

September 19, 02017

The human quest to understand our world continues. The Director of Stanford’s Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) discusses how academics and researchers have organized the study of human action, society, and institutions over time, how they share their findings, and what transformations we need for the future.

Art Thinking + Technology: A Personal Journey of Expanding Space and Time

Scott Kildall

August 15, 02017

What place is there for art in the 21st century world of technology, business, and science? Everywhere. Award-winning cross-disciplinary artist and current SETI artist-in-residence Scott Kildall discusses collaborating with scientists, technologists, and others. He'll share his work and explain the vital role for Art Thinking as a tool that offers perspective
 in a dynamic, fast-moving world.

The Five Ages of Burning Man

Michael Mikel

July 11, 02017

Burning Man co-founder Michael Mikel (aka Danger Ranger), who serves as Director of Advanced Social Systems for the Burning Man Project will discuss the thirty-year history of the event. Outlining the five eras of Burning Man, he will 
explain how over time the event and organization
 have evolved and been molded by external and internal forces.

The Geological Reveal: How the Rock Record Shows Our Relationship to the Natural World

Miles Traer

June 27, 02017

Before us, after us, and without our realizing it: geology, ecology, and biology uniquely record human activity. Geoscientist Miles Traer, co-host of the podcast Generation Anthropocene uncovers the many “natures" of the
 San Francisco Bay Area that exist beneath our feet.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland

June 14, 02017

In a special daytime event co-authors Neal Stephenson (Anathem, Seveneves) and
 Nicole Galland (The Fool's Tale) discuss their novel The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. with Long Now’s Alexander Rose on the day after it was released. It's a book that features ancient texts,
 19th century technology, time travel, 
a language expert protagonist, and magic. Perfect for a Long Now talk.

How We Became “Unprepared”:
Imagining Catastrophe from the Cold War to Bird Flu

Andrew Lakoff

May 30, 02017

What tools & concepts do climate, health and security authorities rely on to evaluate potential crises? An anthropologist of science & medicine asks how preparedness became the norm for experts charged with managing uncertain futures. Lakoff's book Unprepared: Global Health in a Time of Emergency.

The History & Science of a Persistent Malady

Scurvy Salon

May 16, 02017

A special night of short talks about the long history and scientific background behind a most persistent malady. And the drinks that can help keep it at bay. Featuring returning Interval speakers
 James Holland Jones (Stanford), James Nestor (Deep), Kara Platoni (We Have the Technology), The Interval’s Beverage Director: Jennifer Colliau, and more.

Adapting to Sea Level Rise: The Science of New York 2140

Kim Stanley Robinson

May 9, 02017

Legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson returns to The Interval to discuss his just released novel New York 2140. Robinson will discuss how starting from the most up to date climate science available to him, he derived a portrait of New York City as "super-Venice" and the resilient civilization that inhabits it in his novel. In 02016 Robinson spoke at The Interval about the economic ideas that inform New York 2140. He will be joined by futurist Peter Schwartz in conversation after his talk.

Why Freedom of Speech Is More Than Speech:
Expressions in Media and Code

Jennifer Petersen

April 18, 02017

By law “speech” once meant “words,” literally. The interactions of culture, technology and the law have over time broadened that definition and expanded protections to cover images and gestures. Dr. Jennifer Petersen of UVA and CASBS review that progression and looks toward the future of whether code will be considered as speech.

What Curiosity Can Mean for the Future

Adam Steltzner

April 4, 02017

A 25-year veteran of the Jet Propulsion Lab tells how on Earth he became an engineer and what it took to nail the landing on a planet 140 million miles away.

Citizen Science: How It Works, Why It's Important,
and Where It Might Take Us

David Lang

March 21, 02017

As co-founder of the underwater robot maker OpenROV, David Lang can report from the front lines of the growing citizen science movement. His products enable a community of citizen ocean explorers, just as many other amateur enthusiasts around the globe use unprecedentedly powerful, cheap technologies (and the scientific method) to explore the natural world

Climate Change and the Future of Cities

Eric Klinenberg

March 7, 02017

What qualities help assure that
 a community can survive the threat of disaster? The population density of cities leads to inherent vulnerabilities to mass climate disasters: such as single point of failure transit systems and utilities built prior to today's environmental realities. At the same time the resources of cities offer tremendous potential for preparation and innovation.

The Psychology of Surveillance:
How Being Watched Changes Our Behavior

Tara Behrend

February 28, 02017

Organizational psychologist Tara Behrend focuses on the implications of a digitally connected world of work. As pervasive data collection becomes increasingly common in modern work and educational settings, she examines what it means for individual freedom and self-determination.

Sometimes Brilliant
in Conversation with Stewart Brand

Larry Brilliant

February 21, 02017

From 01960s political protests to successfully eradicating smallpox, Brilliant recalls his long, strange trips around a changing world. His personal stories include icons of the last century from Steve Jobs to MLK to the Grateful Dead. Recollections of a visionary physician, technologist, and seeker, in conversation with Long Now's Stewart Brand with whom Dr. Brilliant founded The Well online community in 01985.

Breaking the Close: Burglary and the Limits of Architecture

Geoff Manaugh

February 14, 02017

Burglary reveals unexpected ways of moving through—and misusing—the built environment. In his talk Manaugh (author of the BLDGBLOG blog since 02004) discusses how, for burglars, architecture itself is a tactical tool. Seen through the lens of breaking and entering, walls become doors, sewers merely underground streets.

Rationality Redeemed: An Evolutionary Perspective on Behavioral Economics

James Holland Jones

January 17, 02017

Rationality, a cornerstone of modern economic theory, is increasingly called into question by new behavioral research

. By looking at subsistence societies, this biological anthropologist reaffirms that humans can act in their own self-interest. Bringing an evolutionary perspective to formal decision theory, Dr. Jones will explain what we can learn from the most rational people in the world.

Technology & Counterculture from World War II to Today

Fred Turner

November 15, 02016

Stanford historian Fred Turner discussed how concerns about mass media in the 01940s set the stage for not only the psychedelic 01960s, but also today's social media. This presentation connects the subjects of Turner's two most recent books: From Counterculture to Cyberculture and The Democratic Surround. Fred Turner is a two-time fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) who are co-presenting this talk.

The Next Flight of the Passenger Pigeon: Engineering Nature's Engineers

Ben Novak

September 27, 02016

A now extinct bird that once flocked in the billions, a casualty of industrialization, can be revived. Ben Novak, lead scientist of Revive & Restore's Passenger Pigeon Comeback discussed his work to return a species to the skies, sharing the latest developments and a broad overview of the process of genetic rescue and de-extinction.

Technology at the Limits of Comprehension

Samuel Arbesman

August 23, 02016

The technological advances that make life easier also 
result in systems that are beyond our understanding. In his new book Overcomplicated Arbesman, a complexity 
scientist, discusses how we can live and thrive with 
advanced technologies that defy human comprehension.

Ideology in our Genes: The Biological Basis for Political Traits

Rose McDermott

July 19, 02016

Recent research shows that genetics as well as environment contribute to our political opinions. Social and political psychologist Rose McDermott of Brown Univiersity, a Stanford CASBS fellow, explains the biological foundations of ideology, how conservative and liberals react to each other's scent, and much more. From July 02016.

A Case for Hope in the Anthropocene

Andrew Chignell

June 28, 02016

A philosopher considers the history of hope and its future in the epoch ahead.
 A tour through the theoretical, empirical, and practical dimensions of hope and how it differs from optimism followed by a conversation with Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand on hope and optimism as tools in the now and the long now.

The Inevitable

Kevin Kelly

June 7, 02016

Much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by trends that are now in motion. Long Now’s Kevin Kelly shaes his thoughts on upcoming changes from virtual reality the on-demand economy and how they represent long-term, accelerating forces in this unique event in discussion with The Interval audience.

The Pragmatic Imagination

John Seely Brown, Ann Pendleton-Jullian

May 31, 02016

The world we live in is unprecedented: broadly connected, rapidly changing and radically contingent. The ways humans process the known and the novel have also evolved. Our speakers share their research on the emergent spectrum of the Pragmatic Imagination.

Our Future in Algorithm Farming

Mike Kuniavsky

May 17, 02016

Automated systems increasingly try to predict our behavior and needs; what do we do until they get good at it? The first talk in a new series from the team at PARC, 
the venerable research lab, UX designer and author Mike Kuniavsky takes a clear-eyed look at the benefits and risks of a future interwoven with algorithms. From May 02016.

How Climate Will Evolve Government and Society

Kim Stanley Robinson

May 10, 02016

Humanity’s adaptation to climate change will require novel, global cooperation and societal evolution. The award-winning science fiction author of 2312, the Mars Trilogy, and Aurora shares his vision for how the world must change in advance of his 02017 novel New York 2140. Hosted by Stewart Brand. From May 02016.

Creativity, Trust and the Paradox of Spontaneity

Edward Slingerland

April 26, 02016

With the paradox of wu-wei, Chinese thinkers anticipated aspects of modern neuroscience more than two millennia ago. Chinese language and religion scholar Edward Slingerland (author of Trying Not To Try) looks at wu-wei’s contemporary relevance to creativity, trust, virtue, and the future of human cooperation.

Into the Anthroposcenic

William Fox

April 5, 02016

How will artists and architects shape the most important debate of the early 21st century? In an epoch defined by human activities, the question is not whether to geo-engineer the planet, but how to bring intentionality and consideration to that global project.

How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future

Abby Smith Rumsey

March 29, 02016

Memory is not about the past, it is about the future. Historian and media expert Abby Smith Rumsey explores how digital memory, which cannot be preserved, will shape the future of knowledge and affect our survival. From March 02016.

Painting the Endangered World

Isabella Kirkland

March 22, 02016

Isabella Kirkland's paintings are built for longevity with the hope that the images survive long after the biota are gone, to stand as mute record to their passage. Mixing old techniques, scientific acumen, and keen observation, her paintings act as snapshots of modern attitudes towards other forms of life. Unusually, Kirkland's work has exhibited about equally between art and natural history contexts. She has collaborated with Long Now’s Revive and Restore project to paint flora and fauna that are gone, going or coming back. For this special event at The Interval Kirkland discusses her artistic path over decades including the Manhattan art scene of the 01980s as well as her most recent work "Nudibranchia" which includes over 200 varieties of colorful sea slugs.

Transforming Perception, One Sense at a Time

Kara Platoni

March 1, 02016

Kara Platoni went around the world to document the ways we humans are trying to expand our experience of the world beyond our basic senses. She found scientists, doctors, inventors, and cooks who are actively exploring the frontiers of perception. She gave us a taste of the science and shared amazing stories of biohackers, foodies, virtual reality researchers, and other sensory pioneers.

Thinking Long-term About the Evolving Global Challenge

The Refugee Reality

February 23, 02016

Millions are migrating under duress. Refugee camps the size of cities have persisted for decades. Real dangers and sensationalized fear drive short term news cycles. In a special panel discussion hosted by Long Now academics and on the ground non-profits discuss global migration, the refugee reality, and ideas for the future. From February 02016.

Heroic Antarctic: Rare Whisky, Silent Film,Explorers Tales and Penguin Sex

Odd Salon: Antarctica

February 16, 02016

A special event in collaboration with Odd Salon, a group of curious historians based in San Francisco, focused on Earth's southernmost continent. With particular focus on the adventurous spirit of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and others of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration at the turn of the 20th century. The night includes several short talks, a showing of the film South (01919), and a guided tour through the natural history of the bottom of the world.

Redefining Growth: How To Thrive In the Next Economy

John Thackara

February 2, 02016

A world-traveling champion of sustainable design, Thackara sees "signals of transformation" that point to an emergent economy based on stewardship, not extraction. Where communities are resilient; and soils, biodiversity, and watersheds are getting healthier. He shares findings from his lifelong search for real-world alternatives that work: from earth repair to social farming.

The New Deal You Don't Know

Louis Hyman

January 26, 02016

Historian of capitalism and author of “Borrow: The American Way of Debt” discussed deep economic history and a forgotten chapter of the New Deal era:
 how capitalism itself stalled in the Great Depression; and what government, allied with entrepreneurs, did to jump-start capitalism. The question is: could it happen again today? From January 02016.

The Long News: What Stories Will Matter for Centuries?

Kirk Citron

January 19, 02016

The daily news tells us what happened yesterday. It rarely tells us what’s happening tomorrow. Kirk Citron curates the Long News: looking for longer-term trends that will matter for decades, centuries, even millennia.

From Deep Space into the Deep Sahara

Stefan Kröpelin

December 14, 02015

The world traveling geologist and climate researcher shared stories, science and breath-taking images from his recent trips to the Central African nation of Chad and some of Earth’s most spectacular and least known desert sites.

The Future of the Human Brain

David Eagleman

November 18, 02015

What do the next thousand years have in store for us? 
If we can understand the secrets behind our achievements, perhaps we can direct the brain’s strengths in purposeful ways and open a new chapter in the human story.

In the Footsteps of the Ancestors: The Dreamtime in the Politics of the Present

Howard Morphy, Frances Morphy

November 3, 02015

Anthropologists Howard and Frances Morphy have spent decades working with and studying the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory of Australia. They shared their expertise on the Yolngu people: their mythology, language, art, and culture--including the belief in a Dreamtime (Wangarr) of world-creation which continues in the present.

The Red Planet for Real

Andy Weir

October 27, 02015

Before Andy Weir's self-published novel The Martian became a New York Times bestseller and a blockbuster film, it began as a series of blog posts. Those posts, and the online conversation they sparked, reflect Andy's lifelong love of space and his detailed research into how humans could survive a journey to the fourth planet in our Solar System. In October of 02015, in his talk at The Interval, Andy skipped the fiction and discussed the details of how a real world mission to colonize Mars would work. Hosted by Long Now's Peter Schwartz.

The Cocktail Crystal Ball

Paul Clarke

October 20, 02015

The Executive Editor of Imbibe magazine and author of The Cocktail Chronicles looks back 150 years and then forward to ask:
 What Will They Drink in 02115?

The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots

John Markoff

September 29, 02015

In recent years 
the automation debate has returned. Author and veteran tech journalist John Markoff discusses the potential and peril in designing robots for human use.

The Library That Lasts

Hugh Howey

July 28, 02015

The written word has transformed humanity. Ideas now outlast their creators. Knowledge builds on knowledge across generations. The author of Wool and The Bern Saga asks: “How will texts survive deep time? What does the library of tomorrow look like?”

The Changing Reading Brain in a Digital Culture

Maryanne Wolf

July 14, 02015

Dr. Maryanne Wolf shares her research on the reading brain: its protean capacities; its surprising differences (e.g., in dyslexia); and its changes for good and ill in a digital culture.

Conceptualizing the Risk and Uncertainty of Climate Change

Valentina Bosetti

June 23, 02015

An economist focused on green tech innovation who was a lead author on the latest IPCC Assessment Report, Dr. Bosetti will discuss how we conceptualize the risk and uncertainty of climate change.

Bay Area Telecommunications Infrastructure History

Rick Prelinger

June 16, 02015

Rick Prelinger uncovers the diverse histories of
Bay Area telecommunications infrastructure: telephone, radio, television, data, image and sound. A tour of technologies, dead and flourishing, that overlay, underlay and penetrate us all.

21st Century Iron Age

James Austin

June 2, 02015

A working and teaching blacksmith for over thirty years, James Austin specializes in making Viking age axes using traditional methods.

Seveneves at The Interval

Neal Stephenson

May 21, 02015

A special daytime talk by celebrated speculative fiction author
 Neal Stephenson on the occasion of his just released novel "SEVENEVES". After a reading, Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand joins Neal to discuss the research and writing of the new book, plus a little bit about what is coming next. From May 02015.

Coding Ourselves/Coding Others

D. Fox Harrell

May 5, 02015

Through building and analyzing systems, D. Fox Harrell's research investigates how the computer can be used to express cultural meanings through data-structures and algorithms. In his talk he showed that identities are complicated by their intersection with technologies like social networking, gaming, and virtual worlds. Data-structures and algorithms in video games and social media can perpetuate persistent issues of class, gender, sex, race, and ethnicity. They also create dynamic constructions of social categories, metaphorical thought, body language, and fashion. He showed work from his team at the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory (ICE Lab) at MIT which provides alternatives that can evolve those industry norms.

Modern Brain Parasites as Clues to Ancient Illness

Patrick House

April 21, 02015

A Stanford neuroscientist and geneticist explains how Toxoplasmosis and its animal carriers connect us with ancient Egypt and new 
insights about schizophrenia.

Envisioning Deep Time

Jonathon Keats

April 7, 02015

A conceptual artist and experimental philosopher, Jonathon Keats' work has included personalizing the metric system, copyrighting his own mind, applying general relativity to time management, and attempting to genetically engineer God. Recently he opened the shutter on his first millennium-long photograph. Co-sponsored by The ZERO1 Art & Technology Network. From April 02015.

The Knowledge, Rebuilding Our World from Scratch

Lewis Dartnell

March 24, 02015

Lewis Dartnell, a research fellow for the UK Space Agency, talks about his new book: a must-have resource kit for the day after the apocalypse.

Hell and Good Company, the Spanish Civil War

Richard Rhodes

March 10, 02015

The versatile author and historian Richard Rhodes (a Pulitzer-prize winner for his book "The Making of the Atomic Bomb") leads us through innovations both medical and military from the Spanish Civil War, the subject of his new book "Hell and Good Company".

The Web In An Eye Blink

Jason Scott

February 24, 02015

A filmmaker, historian, and self-proclaimed rogue archivist, Jason Scott discusses his personal history of preserving the digital commons which began with rescuing his favorite BBS-era "text files" and continued with saving gigabytes of the first user-created homepages (i.e. which were about to be trashed by their corporate owner. Today his mission, in his role at the Internet Archive, is to save all the computer games and make them playable again inside modern web browsers. And that's where things get really weird. From February 02015.

Talking with Robots about Architecture

Jeffrey McGrew

February 10, 02015

The co-founder of Because We Can, the architecture/design firm that designed The Interval at Long Now, discusses the future of building: automation, communication, and whether "robots" will change everything. An informed and realistic overview of how architects and builders use automation today and how they may use it tomorrow. From February 02015.

Pace Layers Thinking

Stewart Brand, Paul Saffo

January 27, 02015

Stewart Brand and Paul Saffo will discuss the Pace Layers framework for how a healthy society functions, which Stewart introduced in his book The Clock of Long Now (01999). More than fifteen years after its debut, this concept continues to be influential and inspiring. From January 02015.

Artists with Lasers. Art, Tech, & Craft in the 21st Century

Mathieu Victor

January 20, 02015

Former Jeff Koons studio artist Mathieu Victor discussed the history of technology used in art and how today's tech enables the 21st century’s most ambitious work.

The Great Basin in the Anthropocene

Scotty Strachan

January 6, 02015

University of Nevada-Reno geologist talks about Bristlecone pines, long-term science, and Long Now’s Nevada mountain. With an introduction by Long Now Executive Director Alexander Rose.

A Cool Tools Book Event

Kevin Kelly

November 25, 02014

Founding Wired editor and Long Now board member Kevin Kelly discusses "Cool Tools" his Catalog of Possibilities which contains carries on the spirit of The Whole Earth Catalog includeing more than 1000 useful “tools” of all sort.

Philip K. Dick's Philosophical Machines

Erik Davis

November 18, 02014

Author Erik Davis is best known for his book Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information. But he has been writing about Philip K. Dick for decades, and was a co-editor of The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, a surreal and daunting task in tis own right. Davis took time out from his dissertation on the "High Weirdness" figures of the early 01970s (which includes PKD) to give us a guided tour of the strangely inspired technologies that were born in Dick's fiction. And what's weirdest is how much they resonate with the tech we use today.

Renegade Technology in the Bay Area

Karen Marcelo

November 4, 02014

Dorkbot organizer and Survival Research Labs participant Karen Marcelo discusss the history of renegade tech in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Designing for Longevity -- The 10,000 Year Clock Project

Alexander Rose

October 28, 02014

Long Now’s Executive Director gives a tour of projects throughout history and around the globe that are designed to last for a millennia or more, including our Clock of the Long Now which he has worked on for two decades.

Humanity and the Deep Ocean

James Nestor

October 7, 02014

James Nestor takes us into the ocean's depths with freedivers who go death-defyingly hundreds of feet below the surface without scuba gear. In researching it Nestor found there's much more to freediving than a thrillseeker's pastime. He details compelling insights about not only the ocean and its creatures, but about our own human senses and biology whic await us in the Deep. From October 02014.

The Future of Human Spaceflight

Ariel Waldman

September 30, 02014

Founder of and Science Hack Day, Ariel Waldman looks to our future in the stars.

The Future Declassified

Mathew Burrows

September 23, 02014

Former intelligence analyst and strategic forecaster for the US Government, Mathew Burrows shares his thoughts on our global future.

The Future of the Internet

Peter Schwartz

August 18, 02014

Futurist and Long Now board member Peter Schwartz shared his expertise and explain some of the tools of the futurist’s trade. First he discussed how futurist thinks about a subject, in this case the Future of the Internet. Then everyone attending broke out into small group discussions about that topic, applying scenario planning techniques to propose ways the Internet may change over years and decades to come. Finally the groups presented their work to Peter and the reassembled audience, and we wrote up the results on The Interval's chalkboard.

Go Animals

Jon Mooallem, Laurel Braitman

August 12, 02014

Jon Mooallem and Laurel Braitman have each written smart, well-researched books about animals full of unforgettable stories and insights about human beings.

On the Future of Language

Laura Welcher, Mandana Seyfeddinipur, David Evan Harris

July 8, 02014

Linguistic diversity is linked with biodiversity. Languages are going extinct like never before. Learn about the Big Here of our endangered language world.

Science Fiction to Science Fabrication

Dan Novy

July 1, 02014

Maker, Burner, MIT Media Labber shows how our imagination has exceeded proceeded and how his students have mined science fiction history to inspire new ideas.

Long-term Sustainable Privacy Models

Violet Blue

June 17, 02014

Violet Blue is an investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime, and the author of The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy. She looks at the state of commercial and criminal assaults on privacy, what you can do about it, and thinks about what kind of "ideal" of privacy we might someday hope to create.

Proof: The Science of Booze

Adam Rogers

May 27, 02014

Wired Magazine editor and author of "Proof: The Science of Booze", Adam Rogers leads us on a tour of the 10,000 year story of alcohol. With deep historical research, expert testimony, and solid science he discusses the accidental discovery of fermentation, an alternative American whiskey history, and his own role in the pre-history of Long Now's Interval bar. This talk was the first ever in The Interval's salon talk series; it took place in May of 02014, 2 weeks before The Interval officially opened. From May 02014.

Want to get early notice of The Interval events?

Become A Member or Interval Donor Today

Tickets usually go on sale 2 tweeks prior to the event. Our talks tend to sell out quickly due to our limited capacity. Long Now members can purchase tickets before the general public. Memberships start at just $8/month.