"Part of my program of research is to convince people that they should stop distinguishing cultural and biological evolution as separate in that way. We want to think of it all as biological evolution."
"We have always had this tension of understanding the world, at small spatial scales or individual scales, and large macro scales. In the past when we looked at macro scales, at least when it comes to many social phenomena, we aggregated everything. Our idea of macro is, by an accident of history, a synonym of aggregate, a mass in which everything is added up and in which individuality is lost. What data at high spatial resolution, temporal resolution and typological resolution is allowing us to do, is to see the big picture without losing the individuality inside it."
"These three things—a biological hurricane, computational social science, and the rediscovery of experimentation—are going to change the social sciences in the 21st century. With that change will come, in my judgment, a variety of discoveries and opportunities that offer tremendous prospect for improving the human condition.
It's one thing to say that the way in which we study our object of inquiry, namely humans, is undergoing profound change, as I think it is. The social sciences are indeed changing. But the next question is: is the object of inquiry also undergoing profound change? It's not just how we study it that's changing, which it is. The question is: is the thing itself, our humanity, also changing?"
"A lot of people assume that Semantic Web consists only of the metadata, the data at the top of an article that indicates who it was written by. But no, it's the data. It's the government spending data. It's where the potholes are and where space ships are. It's where cars are. It's where taxis are and it is all the data that makes a map. It's the data that makes all the charts, and it's the data that makes industry run. It's the data that makes governments run. It's not just metadata, and it's not data just sucked from the Web."
"A tiny number of ideas can go a long way, as we've seen. And the Internet makes that more and more likely. What's happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we're being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We're being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard. My worry is that we could be moving in that direction, towards becoming more and more sort of docile copiers."
"Here we are in my studio. What I am working on at the moment is a rough mix for a piece of music for a totem pole. Usually one is asked to do music for films but this is for a totem pole. I call this piece of music Jennifer Financial Talk 3 and in fact it's a soundtrack for the project Jennifer is working on which is called a "Shame Totem", and we don't yet know exactly what form this shame totem will be presented in which gives me a few problems as a composer because obviously I would compose differently for different scenarios." —Brian Eno
Throughout the 19th century, native tribes that spanned the north coast of North America erected shame totem poles to signal to the community that certain individuals or groups had transgressed. This art is resurrected with a modernized, garish, digitally rendered 3-D shame pole to represent the most shameful corporations—chosen with the assistance of 500 people based in the U.S. who surveyed about the corporations that have most negatively affected society. —Jennifer Jacquet
"Up until 10,000 years ago there were no permanent settlements and all human groups lived by hunting and gathering. Then agriculture was discovered and everything changed. Now a small number of people could supply food for the rest and the first cities arose. Every since that time there has been a steady movement of people out of our original arcadia and into cities, such that now over half the world lives in them. But why given that cities have historically been targets of attack and places of crime and where diseases fester and spread? The answer is that cities have acted as gardens of our prosperity, creativity and innovations and their continued existence is vital to fitting the projected 9 billion people onto this planet. Surprisingly, they are the new 'green centres' of the world."
"My topic is the shift from 'architect' to 'gardener', where 'architect' stands for 'someone who carries a full picture of the work before it is made', to 'gardener' standing for 'someone who plants seeds and waits to see exactly what will come up'. I will argue that today's composer are more frequently 'gardeners' than 'architects' and, further, that the 'composer as architect' metaphor was a transitory historical blip."
"Cooking also obeys the laws of physics, in particular chemistry. Yet it is quite possible to cook without understanding it. You can cook better if you do understand what is going on, particularly if you want to deviate from the ways that people have cooked before. If you want to follow a recipe exactly, slavishly, what the hell, you can do it without understanding it. As a rote automaton, you can say, "yes, I mixed this, I cook at this temperature" and so forth. But if you want to do something really different, if you want to go color outside the lines, if you want to go outside of the recipe, it helps if you have some intuition as to how things work."
"I am going to speak about what may the most important thing that has ever happened in human history. Violence has declined by dramatic degrees all over the world in many spheres of behavior: genocide, war, human sacrifice, torture, slavery, and the treatment of racial minorities, women, children, and animals."