Talks by Thomas Homer-Dixon

Civilization Far From Equilibrium - Energy, Complexity, and Human Survival

Thomas Homer-Dixon University of Waterloo
Human societies use complexity – within their institutions and technologies – to address their various problems, and they need high-quality energy to create and sustain this complexity. But now greater complexity is producing diminishing returns in wellbeing, while the energetic cost of key sources of energy is rising fast. Simultaneously, humankind’s problems are becoming vastly harder, which requires societies to deliver yet more complexity and thus consume yet more energy.

How does Technological Innovation Happen? A conversation with W. Brian Arthur on The Nature of Technology.

More than any thing else technology creates our world. It creates our wealth, our economy, our very way of being," says W. Brian Arthur. Yet, until now major questions related to the evolution of technology have gone unanswered. Where do new technologies come from -- how exactly does invention work? What constitutes innovation, and how is it achieved? Why are certain regions -- Cambridge, England, in the 1920s and Silicon Valley today -- hotbeds of innovation, while others languish? Does technology, like biological life, evolve?

An End to Reticence? Natural Scientists and the Politics of Global Change

Thomas Homer-Dixon University of Waterloo
A convergence of climate, resource, technological, and economic stresses gravely threaten the future of humankind. Scientists have a special role in humankind\\\'s response, because only rigorous science can help us understand the complexities and potential consequences of these stresses. Diminishing the threat they pose will require profound social, institutional, and technological changes -- changes that will be opposed by powerful status-quo special interests.