Saturday, April 27, 2019

"How to Create an Institution That Lasts 10,000 Years"

The subject of this interview, Alexander Rose, is executive director of the Long Now Foundation which is perhaps best known for their 10,000 year clocks and for the Long Bet Project to systematize predictions and challenges that take years to decades to centuries to play out.
Some of the bets that have been resolved:
The world will not reach ‘Peak Oil’ by 2010.    (Correct) date of wager/prediction, 2006

There will be a quantum computer with over 100 qubits of processing capability sold either as a hardware system or whose use is made available as a commercial service by Dec 31, 2010    (Yes, if you consider the early D-Wave machine to be a quantum computer. We don't) date of wager/prediction, 2006

A profitable video-on-demand service aimed at consumers will offer 10,000 titles to 5 million subscribers by 2010.   (Yes but still largely DVD focused) date of wager/prediction, 2002
And many more. There are currently 765 'live' long bets.

We've visited one of the co-founders of the Long Now Foundation, Stewart Brand, a few times including in "Climateer Line of the Day: Some Old Hippies Retain Brain Cells, Comment on Big Data Edition" See after the jump for why it was memorable.

And the headliner, from
....We’re also looking at the oldest living companies in the world, most of which are service-based. There are some family-run hotels and things like that, but also a huge amount in the food and beverage industry. Probably a third of the organizations or the companies over 500 or 1,000 years old are all in some way in wine, beer, or sake production. I was intrigued by that crossover.

What’s interesting is that humanity figured out how to ferment things about 10,000 years ago, which is exactly the time frame where people started creating cities and agriculture. It’s unclear if civilization started because we could ferment things, or we started fermenting things and therefore civilization started, but there’s clearly this intertwined link with fermenting beer, wine, and then much later spirits, and how that fits in with hospitality and places that people gather.

All of these things are right now just nascent bits and pieces of trying to figure out some of the ways in which organizations live for a very long time. While some of them, like being a family-run hotel, may not be very portable as an idea, some of them, like some of the natural strategies, we're just starting to understand how they can be of service to humanity. If we broaden the idea of service industry to our customer civilization, how can you make an institution whose customer is civilization and can last for a very long time?.... 

The remarkable Mr. Brand on George Dyson:
March 26, 2013
Climateer Line of the Day: Some Old Hippies Retain Brain Cells, Comment on Big Data Edition
...Dyson is a kayak builder, emulating the wood-scarce Arctic natives to work with minimum frame inside a skin craft. But in the tropics, where there is a surplus of wood, natives make dugout canoes, formed by removing wood. "We're now surrounded by so much information," Dyson concluded, "we have to become dugout canoe builders. The buzzword of last year was 'big data.' Here's my definition of the situation: Big data is what happened when the cost of storing information became less than the cost of throwing it away."
 -- Stewart Brand, The Long Now Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Mr. Brand was one of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters described by Tom Wolfe in the The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Mr. Brand also edited the Whole Earth Catalog.
Drugs may have been involved.

George Dyson is an historian of science.
Wikipedia describes him as:
George Dyson is the son of the theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson and mathematician Verena Huber-Dyson, the brother of Esther Dyson, and the grandson of the British composer Sir George Dyson....