Reforming Medicine: Applying the Lessons of SARS-CoV-2
Event Summary February 1 02021: A conversation on SARS-COV2 inspired innovations, with Preston Estep and Florian Krammer.
Synopsis: The COVID-19 pandemic has been the single most disruptive event to strike the Globe in almost a century. Those disruptions have disproportionately affected those with the least resources. Yet the pandemic has also been a catalyst for innovations which will have long term benefits. Among those are positive innovations in the biomedical field, specifically virus identification, advance preparation and advanced vaccine development and deployment, as well as critical lessons in global and national public health policy and administration.
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The RSA – Inspiring 250 Years Progress
On September 14, 2020, Long Now Boston welcomed Dr. Anton Howes, historian of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) for a conversation on the 250-year history of the RSA. The RSA has demonstrated that non-profit, public interest organizations can live a long time – but they have to reinvent themselves constantly in the face of rapid social, cultural and technological change. And they also have to have a powerful core vision. For the RSA it is:
“Everyone is able to participate in creating a better future.”
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On June 1, 02020, Long Now Boston welcomed climate activist Curt Newton, who led an interactive virtual workshop on climate change. Curt introduced our audience to En-ROADS, a science-based tool that simulates various environmental parameters, resulting in potential climate change solutions. By manipulating these parameters using the En-ROADS simulator, Curt demonstrated the connectivity of these parameters and the contribution that each has on potentially stabilizing global temperature and sea-level rise over the coming decades. En-ROADS is an educational tool that can help individuals and institutions think long-term about climate change and the policy options that can make a difference.
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A Long Now Boston Virtual Conversation
Long Now Boston has held two virtual conversations in the past month to identify how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting human society and culture and what the implications may be for us in the long term. The first conversation, with Long Now Boston volunteers, was held April 6. The second, open to Charter Members, was convened on May 11. While the perspectives are varied and the future trajectory of the virus and its impacts are highly uncertain, one thing seems clear: The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be the most significant global disruption since the mid 20th century. How we collectively respond to it will shape the history of the 21st century.
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April was Global Citizen Science month. To celebrate, people around the world took part in various citizen projects, from observing the night sky to measuring rainfall. Long Now Boston joined in by participating in the City Nature Challenge. The City Nature Challenge was founded and is organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. It is an international celebration of biodiversity observed and documented in and around urban areas.
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A Long Now Boston conversation with Bina Venkataraman, March 2, 02020, Cambridge MA.
In a world dominated by short-term thinking, it is easy to become cynical or jaded about human behavior and the long-term prospects for humanity. Bina Venkataraman has a solution – the pursuit of “wisdom over recklessness.” Wisdom (“experience, knowledge, and good judgment”) can overcome recklessness (“lack of regard for the danger or consequences of one’s actions”), but it requires a different approach to what we measure, what we reward and what we imagine. Bringing this wisdom to bear on our individual and collective choices requires change and new tools at the individual, cultural and institutional levels, which Bina has documented in her book The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age. She offered great advice to a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Long Now Boston Conversation event on Monday March 2, 02020, at the CIC in Cambridge, with the help of moderator William Powers.
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The way we organize our work has a profound effect on our lives. Raj Sisodia has spent much of his life investigating, describing, and advocating for one particular way of organizing work, which he calls “Conscious Capitalism.” For Long Now Boston’s February gathering, he presented some of his latest thinking on this topic.
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Long Now Boston FLASH TALKS 2020.
On January 6, 02020, five Long Now Boston members shared their ideas for improving the long term future for planet earth and the human civilization that inhabits it. In one way or another, all five speakers touched on the importance of working together towards outcomes that better match our human values and aspirations. The top vote-getter for the night was Ye Tao of Harvard’s Rowland Institute for his presentation on Mirrors for Earth’s Energy Rebalancing (MEER:ReflEction). Long Now Boston Board Member George Gantz (ineligible for votes) concluded the event with a presentation on Empathy: The Secret Sauce for Human Thriving.
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Avi Loeb is confident in the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, and optimistic that confirmation, when achieved, will fundamentally transform the human perspective, just as the Copernican revolution, based on increasingly detailed astronomical observations, did a half-millenium ago. With the rapid increase in relevant data from more advanced observations and increasingly sophisticated space missions, that confirmation may come soon.
“Our civilization will mature only by leaving home to the cosmic street and meeting others.” Avi Loeb
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Long Now Boston Conversation Series
November 4, 02019, at CIC, 1 Broadway, Cambridge MA, with James (“J”) Hughes (IEET) and Nir Eisikovits (UMAEC).
Synopsis: Human species have co-evolved with technology for hundreds of thousands of years. Fire and stone tools were once the killer apps, giving humans immense advantages – but human physiology and society also evolved with them. It is no different today, but the stakes are higher, as they include global existential risks, and the pace of change is faster by many orders of magnitude. It is impossible to plan or to predict the future, but we can shape its trajectory by better understanding the risks and tradeoffs and by seeking to achieve equity in how we govern technology.
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