Cosmos Café [6/25/19] - The Next Ten Billion Years

Reading / Watching / Listening

  • no required media … . . see Future Fossil podcast episode 116 on the next 10 Billion years for context.

Seed Questions

  • What would a 20-year, 50-year, 100-year plan for the Cosmos Coop look like? What would a 20-year, 50-year, 100- year plan for the planet look like? Do these two plans match?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics

Agenda items

  • Check-ins; framing
  • Discuss the next 10 billion years, the next 10 years, the next 10 minutes, the next 10 seconds…
  • Reflect on a direction for next Café: take what we have learned forward (10 minutes)
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Thanks, Doug, for bringing attention again to Michael Garfield. As a big fan of Garfield’s I must say this is not the best presentation of ideas. What is missing? A car to drive around in while listening and a look at some nice scenery. Alas I don’t drive or have a car!

About the presentation. This is what I don’t particularly like.The reader of the two different texts, which are contrasted and compared, is not speaking to anyone in particular, the voice is reading into a microphone from a page. It is like listening to a conversation to nobody. The Reader is speaking material that is meant to be read, rather than spoken. Poetry and some prose is good to listen to but I find this kind of reading out loud hard to take except in very small doses.It is the opposite of interactive. And the two, very long selections, are not not good enough to hold my meta-attention. I am not resonating with this long winded prose.

What I do like. In the meta-comments at the end of the episode, Garfield, with his typical brisk intelligence sums up nicely. He already has made up his mind and I tend to agree with him. He has, as usual, some good insights. The conclusion, if I am not mistaken, sounds a tad bit like teleology, a purpose, a direction, though with lots of zig zags. I would like more of this from him. I miss the dialogical nature of his podcasts when he is at his best. His conversation with Kerri Welch was a winner. This is much less than that but hey I am willing to listen to why others might like this more than I do.

I think this is a good podcast to chunk down and chunk slow. It is difficult, due to lack of a context, to know what to give attention to( ten billion years from now? mmmm…) This is probably a different kind of discussion than the one about the thought exercise suggested here. Rather than go for content I wonder about the transderivational search of a Voice from nowhere asking us to focus on DEEP TIME?

Okay…I’ll work on that!

Here is another possibility that could fit the Cafe in a possible future. Since the Cafe is for those in the fast lane, I would invite us to check out, John Horgan’s on line book, Mind-Body Problems. Each chapter includes a manageable profile of a deep thinker and a recorded interview with the deep thinker. All of them are interesting , except for Owen Flanagan, whom I loathe, as the worst kind of materialist reductionist know it all. I met him at Columbia a number of years ago. He is a nice person, perhaps, but a glib dogmatic materialist. The rest of the thinkers that Horgan reviews are interesting. His interview with Kripal, I posted previously, on the last thread, would also be a good one to play off the collaborative mind(s) here at the Cafe.

Here is another video, and not easy to follow but it is fun to watch experts at the edge of their maps trying to find a way to cut through their own jargon. Kauffman, I much admire, certainly has a difficult time chunking down and chunking slow but I greatly enjoy this back and forth between these two long term critics of each other’s work. Decoherence and re-coherence, entanglement and non-locality. Very weird.

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Another Cafe possibility. This video is a another gem. A short video by a genius cultural worker, Dian Slatterly, about language and the ineffable. We are inter-twingled. This is very interesting and I would love to invite a dialogue.

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Pardon the placement of a strange relic in front of the Cafe doorsteps, then I dingdong ditch leaving you wondering what to do with the unknown bag . . . Is it a load of crap (do I really need to listen to another podcast recommended by Doug?!) or a subtle surprise, waiting to creep up and seep into the conversation? Likely this one is a grab bag, one in which we could pick and choose what would be most useful.
I appreciate your feedback, as always Johnny. Let me explain . . .

The Café does not have to be about the next podcast, the next conversation. I believe we have been slowing down, especially in the last few Cafés. We have had a reading, yes, but more important (to me) is that we carry forward that which we have learned. This isn’t fast food . . . I do not want to have an aura looming about our Café that we are trying to produce a shiny menu with hip food items to make your mouth water. The Café really wants to exude a certain atmosphere, open up to anyone willing to contribute their time/effort in allowing the conversation to come alive, keeping each other on our toes, keeping the peace and giving our best to those at the table. We are an open Café, ready to receive the other with our hospitality. If something seems amiss, a stranger or strange idea seems more of an enemy than a guest, we receive and respond best we can, learn and continue living. If we are going to fast, introducing too much reading/watching/listening . . . we can slow things down. We want to introduce and embrace sanity . . .not surely lose our minds in the fast lane.

We have spoken of needing a framing while remaining open to what arises in the conversation and to what wants to happen. I like the thought experiment from the Future Fossils episode . . . I find little utility in any vision of 10 billion years, though it is useful (fun? cute?) to hear or read what others have to say that give/gave thought to this VERY long time frame. I think it would be useful to try and decipher why I felt this would be relevant subject matter for our conversation and maybe it will redirect our focus to slowing down into a relevant time frame:

  • There is an underlying “given” that our ecological crisis needs constant address. This topic is one we have not directly addressed or has not played as the leading subject of a Café but it does come up in nearly every single one of our conversations.

  • @Geoffreyjen_Edwards, during one of our recent Bateson calls asked for a collective effort on our part to apply the concepts of Bateson to our work here . . . I couldn’t find his direct reference in the conversation but the linked reference does mention a sort of “training in thinking” that Bateson’s thought permits. Geoffrey reflected in the recording on the Cosmos Coop and our participation here being only but a drop in the large sea, which has led me into territory around . . .

  • . . . the trajectory of my/our presence here on the site. Of what use is my reading another book, listenign to another podcast? Of what use are my writings? Our discussions? Our reading groups? This is not solely a pleasure game we play, excited about reading our favorite books . . .yet what is the best use of our time? What is really needing to happen? Or, as has been tossed around by others, what wants to happen? What can the Cosmos Coop become? Another project of Geoffrey’s is the 20-year plan . . . Where will we be in 20 years? Sometimes we may think “I’ll be dead” or “this forum will be dead to me” or “I will have moved on to the next thing and do not wager too much ‘value’ on this Coop Project meeting the demands of the world" . . . How does it expect to embody that which I experience within my own ‘realm’? How can I carry forward virtual thoughts into my local realm? Yet in our best moments we may get the sense or tune into the frequency that what we are doing here is truly shaping reality. I like what @AndrewField81 has said here:

If I was to frame this Café, I would want for us to seriously think about our participation here (in the Cosmos) in tandem with the ecological. What can you imagine for yourself in the world in 20 years? 50 years? 100 years? What would a 20-year, 50-year, 100-year plan for the Cosmos Coop look like? What would a 20-year, 50-year, 100- year plan for the planet look like? Do these two plans match? Make sense? @johnnydavis54 states that we are getting more creative and wise through our experiences here… .we may not realize our vision within our lifetime . . . but simply wanting it and desiring it is very important. @Michael_Stumpf’s discussion he led on vision and routine is relevant to such an exploration. We can take this framing and save it for another time. . . just a few thoughts. I look forward to our conversation tomorrow.


Ten Billion years from now? Well…yeah…but what about tomorrow? That is the date of the Cafe. I appreciate all of your ruminations, Doug, and I am open to whatever comes through the crystal ball. I just have a tighter schedule with plenty to read, and to re-read, and so am wanting short and sweet to make a weekly deadline work. I just don’t get the magic from this episode. The episode that he did with Sean Hargens on Exo-studies #113 is excellent and mind boggling. I always want to highlight a performer/thinker when they are at their best. However, we can all have a different choice to make about where our attention wants to go.


I am looking for a tasty appetizer at the Cafe and a cup of coffee. I don’t need a large three course meal. We can do that at a long term study group extravaganza.


Like @johnnydavis54, I had trouble listening to this all the way through… I gave up partway. I liked the overall idea, but found the podcast very long winded with a message that wasn’t, ultimately, as clear as the premise suggested. The options given were also an on the boring side… but the idea of thinking that far ahead is still interesting. In my own scifi saga, I think half a billion years forward, and project from there into the longer term, and perhaps I am also long winded, as it takes me 15 books to say my piece, but I hope it is not boring…

I have the Cafe down as a « try and make it this week » - my work life is a little less busy right now and I should be able to attend.


Although I still don’t feel much like talking, I wouldn’t be adverse to listening, but I just can’t warm up to the proposal, as proposed. I think it would be in everyone’s best interest if I opt out of this one. Do have fun and play nice.


I hope to attend,I have to P/U Sister from Airport,may get to Pop in half way through??? if not let the Brain Cells Shake,Rattle & Roll.

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I have a few assignments I have to prepare for this week ( including the Axial Age and the Bateson wrap up) so I think I will take a break from the Cafe tomorrow. Have fun.

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Good. Let us postpone this topic, place it in the proposal list. If others wish to have a discussion, then the Zoom line is available. You can discuss whatever you may desire.

One basic thought behind the Cafe proposals is that if nothing has been discussed by Thursday then I will select something from the proposal list or determine a topic for the following Tuesday. That is what happened this time around and it didnt seem to work out. I would appreciate some assistance in the future. I do not need to be picking and chosing. I am here to help process the recordings not necessarily determine the content. I do not like to waste others time or my own.


Hmmm … it looks like Doug (and maybe Geoffrey) could be all alone, and I do not feel completely comfortable with that picture. So …

Against my better judgment, and although I, too, need to get ready for our Axial-Age meet-up on Friday, I have a last-minute proposal for tomorrow that gleans what I believe to be the best of this thread thus far combined with a leap into the unknown, but a leap that could just be beneficial for this platform that everyone claims to love.

Doug proposed a long-term, future-oriented Café. I think this is noble, sincere, and well-intended. It lacks, IMONSHO, a specific focus. I would hone in on the “long-term” notion and say, “Let’s make it strategic”. That is, why not take all our future-oriented thinking, apply it to the Café – or, better, the IC platform – and do a bit of strategic brain-storming. If anything comes of it, we have something to offer Marco and Caroline and all of the rest of us who would like to see the platform succeed. What I’m proposing is we conduct a real-live strategic workshop instead of just “talking”; that is, let’s do something concrete, practical, and potentially helpful.

Instead of asking what we envision the Café (or the platform to be in 20 or 50 years), let’s ask ourselves what has to happen so that the platform survives, period. In other words, let’s ask ourselves what is a realistic strategic horizon for Infinite Conversations. And, in addition, let’s call into awareness that the platform should optimally be some kind of “co-op” (even if we don’t know specifically and assuredly just what that means). This means that the primary seed question for our little brain-storming session would be

What should the Cosmos co-op be when it grows up?

We, of course, can’t answer this question specifically, but we have enough input to make it meaningful. We know, for example, that it should be some kind of “business entity” that is, in some sensible meaning of the word, “sustainable” (i.e., it can survive on its own). We know that the “investors” (whoever they are and however they are conceived) “benefit” from their investment, and that the participants should be able to incorporate their own activities on that platform in a meaningful, and potentially “profitable” way: perhaps one earns units of some kind of crypto-currency, or authors can get published here and received something like royalties, or … you get the picture. The details of the vision can be fleshed out later, and it is obvious that the current “powers-that-be” are thinking along these lines. The details are, quite honestly spoken, irrelevant for the moment.

Stated succinctly, we have a quasi-business entity that would like to become self-sufficient. What is it going to take for it to become viable, and how do we get from where we are to where we need to be? And that’s where you CCafé participants come in. How about we start sketching that out? And how do we do that?

Reluctantly, I would propose the following:

First, we agree on a strategic horizon for Cosmos Co-op. I would propose, as a basis of discussion, no longer than five years (details can be discussed in the get-together). This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

Second, we “develop” a five-year “vision” for the Co-op. At the same time, we start thinking about developing a three-year documental (i.e., including financials) plan for achieving that vision. (That is, the remainder of the session will be about what we need to think about for a “plan”. Not developing a plan, mind you, but thinking about what we need to think about for a plan. Let that sink in.)

Third, we start thinking strategically, in a business-oriented sense of the word, and the best way to do that is to play. So, we’ll play with a couple of tried-and-true business-strategy tools to see how far we get. (I’m thinking of maximum two such tools (though I’m guessing we won’t finish playing with the first one) … I would like you all to get a feel for what it actually takes to develop a strategy … and you’ll have the added advantage of experiencing in real life what I “tortured” my strategy students with for almost 15 years.)

Nobody has to have read anything. Nobody has to have watched anything. All that is expected is that you bring yourself, your attitude toward the IC platform, your experience, your general knowledge of the world, and your willingness to contribute in a meaningful way to the session. I will provide the structure and do the coordinating … but someone may have to volunteer to do a bit of protocolling, should things get rolling.

What do you think? No obligation. It’s just an offer.


As far as I’m concerned, rules are meant to be bent, if not broken, though sometimes it’s good if we all agree to follow them. That’s probably the minority case.

If nobody wants to talk tomorrow, I’ll not talk as well. As I said, it was just a spur-of-the-moment offer.

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This does sound like torture and I have endured enough enforced corporate strategy meetings for this life time. I endured weekly mandatory meetings where the best business consultants in NY, came into the organization, told us what we needed to do to maximize returns on the investment of various sponsors. One of those consultants was Bernie Madoff, who had a very interesting strategy. You may have heard of his success record? I know the script by heart.

I think that we would need to have the presence of more than the usual Cafe crowd to realize such an ambition, Ed, although I admire this enthusiastic Gebserian irruption, that seems to have come from the middle of nowhere. Perhaps Carolyn and others who want to monetize these networks could come forward and present their preferences. I think this has been floating around as an idea for awhile. I am not sure what is happening with that agenda. I admit I have no clear idea what a success means any more. I muddle on through as best I can giving my attention free of charge to those who show up. The challenge has always been to balance relationships with tasks. This is never easy for me as I have serious constraints upon my time and those constraints are getting more pressing.

As much as I appreciate your offer, Ed, I would like to watch this from Observer mode and take notes and report back to the group. I have a preference for taking a meta-perspective on this one. I recently met with Marco and his lovely family in Manhattan. I expect when he returns he could lead a fruitful discussion about these imponderables.

The Second Axial Age is beckoning me and I sense that could be a challenging project that needs some protection. It is a huge undertaking and it will take a lot of concentration. We are just finishing up the Bateson project which has been liberating. Other study groups are forming. So, I look forward to making happen this week what I have started up already and look forward to reviewing the Cafe video when ready. Thanks to everyone for making the Cafe a friendly space to test out ideas. Good luck and may the force be with you all.


This proposal is exactly what @madrush and @care_save have been working on in the background, minus the stategic input and expertise (for lack of better word) from you Ed. And I would also say that said proposal has been brought forth to the foreground, though it easily becomes lost in the weeds on the forum. The multiple conversations that are occurring and have occurred, most recently and concretely through the Cosmosvision discussions, have directly addressed and fleshed out the various steps to your proposal, though I wouldn’t recommend watching these recordings, as they are mostly brainstorming sessions. As an extra pair of listening ears (participating in the Cosmovision discussions without much useful business savvy), I have noticed a divide between the business side of things and the more “playful” creative side. The “This Week in Cosmos” short recordings that I began three weeks ago intends to bridge our foreground perspective with this background work, though it is difficult to talk about this stuff in just a couple of minutes.

As @johnnydavis54 notes . . . this type of talk can be torture for some of us. But this type of talk has to happen. I think this proposal is just what is needed @achronon . . . your input Ed would be most helpful. Whatever is produced during this Cafe would be very useful and is exactly the type of feedback we need to make shifts happen. Perhaps you (and others) could attend this 7/4 Cosmovision session which would be a good time to share feedback directly to Marco and Caroline:

I will be around for the discussion today. If @Geoffreyjen_Edwards and @Michael_Stumpf can attend, great! They both have shared their thoughts around the business side of things. Looking forward to what you have in mind Ed.


Heh, heh, heh … I can understand your sentiments, John, but I would also hasten to add that there is a world of difference between corporate strategy sessions (with the likes of Madoff or McKinsey or whomever else’s sole purpose is to manipulate you into repeating after them and writing them checks ) and doing some focused thinking about a start-up, which can be an eye-opening exercise. Still, I deeply respect your desire to defer on this one.


No doubt. Inklings have appeared periodically, and I know from personal experience how nagging, draining, and seemingly hopeless the process can appear. I just wanted to thank you for the parenthetical qualification of the word “expertise”. I claim none and would feel rather uncomfortable about being considered to have any.

As to your offer, re: 4 July (you guys are really going to work on a holiday? Now, that’s dedication), if yinz want, I think I could manage to show up, but I also imagine that you’ll find you’ve already been doing a lot of what I might bring to the table, perhaps not in a way that I might have done it, but that’s pretty irrelevant. Everybody’s got to find their own way, but my experience has been that most folks have to overcome something of a gag reflex in order to get down to the really boring and frustrating work of actually putting something like a real “plan” together (whereby we don’t want make too much of that word one way or the other). In other words, the last thing I would want would be to disrupt some flow or momentum you folks have been developing.


I thought we might talk about the long term for religion, in the light f our readings in Aurobindo and others, that is what excited me about this project of ten billion years. The strategy session for cosmos, although important, I feel less driven, not because it shouldn’t be done but because I think it needs preparation, I.’m not happy about doing it at the last minute… I will come, and we will talk about …something, those who show up :slight_smile:


Hi @Douggins and Café friends ~ I have been mostly offline for the past couple weeks and am just beginning to catch up with recent threads, so I have not listened to the podcast. But I think the idea has potential if we could feel our way towards what “10 billion years” even means. It is a cosmic-time perspective and we have to imagine changes on a planetary and galactic scale, but not only in astrophysical terms but spiritual as well. What does ‘this Universe’ want to be when it grows up? (If it is not grown up already, if such a question is in any way meaningful…)

There is a whole discourse on ‘conscious evolution’ which could play in here. We could take the perspective of Gaia. Sci-fi possibilities abound. Personally, I have tried to imagine what role Cosmos Co-op might play in Deep Time. If we could step outside of the moribund ontology of utopian techno-capitalism (a favorite bugaboo), I believe we would find that future is up for grabs and we could begin to redefine our time scales and criteria for success.

And I would personally very much like to take @achronon up on his offer, but for some very boring, practical, tactical reasons, I can’t make it today. However, if we could schedule a “What do we want Cosmos to be in 5 years?” session, and can also make some creative, playful space to contemplate/entertain what ‘this Cosmos’ itself (as a conscious community) might want to become in the same (human) time-frame, that seems to me like a discussion well worth having and participating in, and I believe Ed’s facilitation could lead us in a fruitful direction.