Civilisational collapse has a bright past – but a dark future

Is the collapse of a civilisation necessarily calamitous? The failure of the Egyptian Old Kingdom towards the end of the 2nd millennium BCE was accompanied by riots, tomb-raids and even cannibalism. ‘The whole of Upper Egypt died of hunger and each individual had...

Forget the Anthropocene: we’ve entered the synthetic age

Nature itself will be shaped by processes redesigned and ‘improved’ by geneticists and engineers. We should call this transition the beginning of a ‘synthetic age’, a time in which background constants are increasingly replaced by artificial and ‘improved’ versions of...

Kevin Laland: Is evolutionary science due for a major overhaul?

When researchers at Emory University in Atlanta trained mice to fear the smell of almonds (by pairing it with electric shocks), they found, to their consternation, that both the children and grandchildren of these mice were spontaneously afraid of the same smell. That...

Astra Taylor: Time’s up for capitalism. But what comes next?

What is the relationship of democracy to time? This question may seem abstract but is actually foundational. … Every person, whether or not they have children, exists as both a successor and an ancestor. We are all born into a world we did not make, subject to...