"The Past, Present, and Future of the Anthropocene" panel discussion- October InterPlanetary series
The Anthropocene, a new epoch in earth history, reflects the unprecendented ways in which one species - Homo sapiens - has shaped our planet. To many, the Anthropocene began with the Great Acceleration, a period of exponential growth in just about any measurable parameter from population size to energy consumption to the number of new chemicals introduced into the biosphere and patents registered.
But what enabled our species to have such influence? What co-evolutionary and historical processes led to the Anthropocene? Does the Anthropocene represent a phase transition within the coupled natural-social-cultural-technological systems? And what is the future of the Anthropocene?
In this SFI Community Lecture, part of the InterPlanetary Project, a panel of historians, biologists, earth scientists, and artists explore this unique moment in our planet's history, its past, and its future. The panel will be moderated by SFI External Professor Manfred Laubichler.
Laubichler is a theoretical biologist and historian of science. His undergraduate training was in zoology, philosophy and mathematics at the University of Vienna (Austria) and his graduate training was in biology at Yale and in History/History of Science at Princeton. He is associate editor of two journals, "Biological Theory" and the "Journal of Experimental Zoology, Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution" and is a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and an external faculty member at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Altenberg, Austria.
Sander van der Leeuw: the 2012 United Nations Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation. His expertise lies in the role of invention, sustainability, and innovation in societies around the world. He and his research team investigate how invention occurs, what the preconditions are, how the context influences it, and its role in society. An archaeologist and historian by training, Dr. Van der Leeuw has studied ancient technologies, ancient and modern man-land relationships, and Complex Systems Theory. He has done archaeological fieldwork in Syria, Holland, and France, and conducted ethno-archaeological studies in the Near East, the Philippines and Mexico. Since 1992 he has coordinated a series of interdisciplinary research projects on socio-natural interactions and modern environmental problems. The work spans all the countries along the northern Mediterranean rim. Dr. Van der Leeuw is an External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute and a Corresponding Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. He teaches courses on the ethnography of innovation.
D.A. Wallach: an investor, recording artist, and essayist who Kanye West and Pharrell Williams discovered while he was an undergraduate at Harvard College. D.A. invests in and advises several start-up technology companies, including SpaceX, Doctor On Demand, Ripple, Emulate and Spotify, where he was the official Artist in Residence. Forbes selected D.A. as one of its 30 Under 30 and Fast Company named him one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. In 2015, he launched Inevitable Ventures, an investment partnership with multibillionaire Ron Burkle that supports radical entrepreneurs in areas including health care, the life sciences, and financial technologies. He has been featured in GQ, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and numerous other publications, and has toured with N*E*R*D, Lady Gaga, and Weezer. D.A. has also performed on TV Shows including Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. As one half of Chester French, D.A. has released three full-length albums, and has written and performed on records with Janelle Monae, Rick Ross, Diddy, and many others. His solo debut for Capitol Records, Time Machine, is available now. In 2016, D.A. made his feature film debut in La La Land, which won a record number of Golden Globe Awards and received 14 Academy Award nominations, making it one of the 3 most nominated films in history. He frequently publishes essays on media, technology, and philosophy on his personal website.
and Geoffrey West: a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics, biology, and global sustainability. West is a Distinguished Professor at SFI, where he served as president from 2005 to 2009. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena evolved into a highly productive collaboration on the origin of universal scaling laws that pervade biology from the molecular genomic scale up through mitochondria and cells to whole organisms and ecosystems. This work has received much attention in both the scientific and popular press, and provides a framework for quantitative understanding of problems ranging from fundamental issues into questions at the forefront of medical research. Among his current interests is the extension of these ideas to understand quantitatively the structure and dynamics of social organizations, such as cities and corporations, including the relationships between economies of scale, growth, and innovation, and their implications for long-term survivability and sustainability. In 2006 he was named one of Time magazine’s "100 Most Influential People in the World" and his work was selected as one of the breakthrough ideas of 2007 by the Harvard Business Review. He is the author of several books, including his recent Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies. West is also a visiting Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, Imperial College in London, and the Nanyang Technical University in Singapore.
SFI’s 2017 Community Lecture Series is supported by Thornburg Investment Management, with additional support provided by The Lensic Performing Arts Center. This particular panel discussion is also funded by the Miller Omega Program, and the ASU-SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems.