Wright and Eno

July 14th, 2006 4:32 PM

There are very few things I wouldn’t have considered doing to be able to attend the Long Now seminar from last month with Will Wright and Brian Eno, two people for whom I have a huge amount of respect and admiration. Audio of the seminar is available at the Long Now site in MP3 and Vorbis formats.

Some choice excerpts from Steward Brand’s summary:

Wright observed that science is all about compressing reality to minimal rule sets, but generative creation goes the opposite direction. You look for a combination of the fewest rules that can generate a whole complex world which will always surprise you, yet within a framework that stays recognizable.

Wright launched his civilization into space, having first abducted some creatures to plant on other planets for terraforming projects. The computer presented him an infinite variety of planets, some already occupied. Wright: “Oops. I seem to have inadvertantly started an interplanetary war here.” Eno: “Like America.”

A significant new element in computer games is the profound command, “Restart.” You get to explore other paths to take in the same situation. Eno: “That’s what we do with everything I call culture, everything not really necessary, from how we wear our hair to how we decorate a cupcake. We try something, surrender to it, and are encouraged to imagine what else might be tried.”