Tech pronouncement: “The Net is net beneficial.”

Historian Niall Ferguson: “Globalization is in crisis.  Populism is on the 
march.  Authoritarian states are ascendant.  Technology meanwhile marches 
inexorably ahead, threatening to render most human beings redundant or immortal 
or both.  How do we make sense of all this?”

Ferguson analyzes the structure and prospects of “Cyberia” as yet another round 
in the endless battle between hierarchy and networks that has wrought spasms of 
innovation and chaos throughout history.  He examines those previous rounds 
(including all that was set in motion by the printing press) in light of the 
current paradoxes of radical networking run by massive hierarchical companies 
(Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and their equivalents in China) and 
exploited by populists and authoritarians around the world.

He puts the fundamental question this way: “Is our age likely to repeat the 
experience of the period after 1500, when the printing revolution unleashed 
wave after wave of revolution?  Will the new networks liberate us from the 
shackles of the administrative state as the revolutionary networks of the 
sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries freed our ancestors from the 
shackles of spiritual and temporal hierarchy?  Or will the established 
hierarchies of our time succeed more quickly than their imperial predecessors 
in co-opting the networks, and enlist them in their ancient vice of waging war?”

Niall Ferguson is currently a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, 
a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and visiting 
professor at the New College of the Humanities.   His books include The Square 
and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook (2018); 
Civilization: The West and the Rest (2012); and The Ascent of Money: A 
Financial History of the World (2009).

"Networks and Power," Niall Ferguson, SFJAZZ Center, Hayes Valley, San 
Francisco, 7pm, Monday November 19.  The show starts promptly at 7:30pm.

To be sure of a seat:
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on the Ferguson Seminar page to reserve 2 free seats 
• You can purchase tickets for $25 each 
• Seminar at SFJAZZ Center <> 201 
Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
• Tune into the live stream <> for Long Now Members at 
7:30 PT - become a member <> for just $8 a month.
Share this talk: Niall Ferguson, "Networks and Power" Long Now talk on 11/19 <>

Talks coming up:
December 4 & 5 - Rick Prelinger, Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 13 
January 14 - Martin Rees, Prospects for Humanity
March 13 - Chip Conley, The Modern Elder and the Intergenerational Workplace 
April 2 - Jeff Goodell, The Water Will Come 

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 --Stewart Brand

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