Apocalypse Not? David Eagleman on How the Internet Could Avert the Collapse of Civilization

Posted: February 5, 2011 in Overshoot & Collapse, Solutions & Responses
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A couple months ago, a video started circulating among the internet niches I frequent, called “Six Easy Steps to Avert the Collapse of Civilization.”  The video was a recording of a lecture given by David Eagleman at the Long Now Foundation and broad-casted by FORA.tv.  I don’t know why I didn’t post it back then, but I wanted to get it on the blog just because it’s a great, thought-provoking talk.  Here’s the link to the FORA.tv page for the talk.

The reason I was encouraged to post this FORA.tv talk was the result of a recent interview I listened two where David Eagleman spoke Jay Hughes of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies on his “Changesurfer Radio” podcast.

Description from the IEET post on “The Net, Brains, and Civilizational Resilience“:

Dr. J. chats with David Eagleman, a fellow of the IEET and director of the Laboratory for Perception and Action and the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law at Baylor College of Medicine. Eagleman is author of the bestseller Sum, on fictional afterlives, Wednesday is Indigo Blue, about synaesthesia, the e-book Why the Net Matters and the forthcoming Incognito: The Brains Behind the Mind. They discuss the thesis David outlined for the Long Now Foundation that the Internet makes our civilization more resilient than previous ones.

Given just how central energy is to sustaining complexity (i.e. making everything work), I’m still not entirely convinced that the internet will solve all of the problems we face in this century.  I certainly agree that it gives us a better chance of managing our civilizational risks – but that assumes the keepers of the status quo don’t fight it.  With concerns over the freedom of the internet growing every year due to cyber warfare and other disruptive possibilities, it seems at least possible that much of the liberating potential of the net will be muzzled instead of cultivated.

In terms of opportunities, I think any strategic thinker, entrepreneur, or good investor would be wise to seek opportunities related to the 6 ways that the internet could avert the collapse of civilization.  Presumably, if these are actually ways to avert or mitigate major future catastrophes, then those who figure out how to align with these ideas will stand to protect & benefit themselves and those around them.

For quick reference, the 6 “civilizational life-savers” according to Eagleman are:

  1. Try Not to Cough on Anyone
  2. Don’t Lose Things
  3. Tell Each Other Faster
  4. Mitigate Tyranny
  5. Get More Brains Involved
  6. Try Not to Run Out of Energy

Perhaps in a future post, I’ll explore these areas in a bit more detail – looking at their potential to actually avert civilizational collapse, or possible opportunities that arise out of focusing on these ideas.

Stay tuned.

Cheers,

-a.j.m.

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Comments
  1. the rookie cynic says:

    7. Grow some food.

    Thanks for the link to the video. Saul Griffith is another one to watch on Fora.

    Cheers.

  2. Jim Melfi says:

    Thanks for posting Engleman’s The Long Now talk. It was a welcomed break in my day. The talk was an hour forty-two but Engleman is well-represented via YouTube for those who wish to have his genius in shorter form. Long Now is great, as most of us know, because it breaks talks down in parts — a good way to bookmark for return. Keep up your great posting! Jim Melfi, founder, videotlalks.org.

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