278. “Big Historian” David Christian on Time, the Near and Far Future, Transhumanism, Interstellar Migrations, the Fate of Our Species, and the End of Time

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By Michael Shermer. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The future is uncertain, a bit spooky, possibly dangerous, maybe wonderful. We cope with this never-ending uncertainty by telling stories about the future: future stories. How do we construct those stories? Where is the future, the place where we set those stories? Can we trust our future stories? And what sort of futures do they show us? David Christian is renowned for pioneering the emerging discipline of Big History, which surveys the whole of the past. In this conversation, he reveals what he thinks the future holds for our species.

Shermer and Christian discuss: past patterns projected into the future • What is time and when do the past and future begin? • How long is the present “now”? • A-Series Time and B-Series Time • time as the 4th dimension • chaos theory and predicting the future • entropy, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the direction of time • general relativity and time • how we experience time psychologically and anthropologically • likelihood of outcomes and Bayesian probabilities • how organisms manage the future • how human organisms manage the future • how futurists think about the future • how people in the past thought about the future • the next 100, 1,000, and 10,000 years • the next million years, and the end of time.

David Christian is a Professor Emeritus at Macquarie University, where he was formerly a Distinguished Professor of History and the director of the Big History Institute. He cofounded the Big History Project with Bill Gates, his Coursera MOOCs are popular around the world, and he is cocreator of the Macquarie University Big History School. He has delivered keynotes at conferences around the world, including the Davos World Economic Forum, and his TED Talk has been viewed more than 12 million times. He is the author of numerous books and articles, as well as the New York Times bestseller Origin Story.

298 episodes