Coco Krumme traces the fascinating history of optimization from its roots in America's founding principles, to its dominance as the driving principle of our modern world. Optimized models underlie everything and are deeply embedded in the technologies and assumptions that have come to comprise not only our material reality, but what we make of it. How did a mathematical concept take on such outsized cultural shape?
Krumme's work in scientific computation made her aware of optimization's overreach, where she observed that streamlined systems are less resilient and more at risk of failure. They limit our options and narrow our perspectives. Optimal Illusions exposes the sizable bargains we have made in the name of optimization and asks us to consider what comes next.
Long Now Talks are made possible by David and Abby Rumsey, Kim Polese, The Kaphan Foundation, Garrett Gruener, Scorpio Rising Fund, Peter Baumann, Brian Eno, Greg Stikeleather, Cameo Wood, Ping Fu, Peter Schwartz, Lawrence Wilkinson, Ken and Maddy Dychtwald, Future Ventures, Ken and Jackie Broad, AtoB, WHH Foundation, Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan, Jackson Square Partners Foundation, and The Long Now Members. We would also like to recognize George Cowan (01920 - 02012) for being the first to sponsor this series.
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What is the long now?
The Long Now Foundation is a nonprofit established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking. Our work encourages imagination at the timescale of civilization — the next and last 10,000 years — a timespan we call the long now.