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FutureProofing

Series examining the implications - social and cultural, economic and political - of the big ideas that are set to transform the way society functions

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Healthcare

Healthcare is being transformed by technology. Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson discover what the future really holds for how we look after our health. Visiting the Silicon Valley technologists and cutting-edge medical research facilities, Leo explores the ambitions they have to bring science-fiction style health aids and treatments to millions of people, and how they are working to try and put an end to all infectious diseases. Timandra experiences the latest in remote control doctor surgeries in Dubai, and discovers the hugely significant part that your health data will play in shaping the future of healthcare for everyone. Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

42mins

17 May 2017

Rank #1

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Wealth

How will we become wealthy in future? Presenters Leo Johnson and Timandra Harkness journey to New York and the Arabian Gulf to discover how our understanding of wealth is changing. They explore new definitions of wealth, and find out how old money plans to hang on to its wealth in the face of challenges from technology and social tensions between generations.Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

43mins

24 May 2017

Rank #2

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Living in Space

What would it really be like to live on other planets, and what are the implications of humans colonising space?Living in space is becoming a real prospect, as plans develop for mass space travel and discoveries are made of environments that can support life on other worlds. Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson travel to NASA's main space habitation research facility in Virginia, USA, to find out how humans might actually colonise deep space. They also learn about the search for alien intelligence, how private industry plans to harvest the resources of other planets, and why settling in space could offer us all a very different model of society in future. Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

43mins

10 May 2017

Rank #3

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Mental Health

How can we protect and improve our mental health in future? FutureProofing explores how we might achieve healthier minds, and whether far greater understanding of the way our brains work will be enough to treat mental illness and enhance mental health in the 21st century. In Silicon Valley, presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson discover the cutting edge technology that aims to revolutionize diagnosis and treatment. They learn about the prospect of mind control and pervasive tracking to monitor how well millions of people are functioning mentally in future. And they find out why our understanding of and attitudes towards mental health must change significantly, if we are to meet the challenge of what appears to be an explosion of mental ill health around the world. Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

43mins

16 May 2018

Rank #4

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Sin

Will sin disappear in future, as technology and a better understanding of human behaviour allow us to stop people from sinning before they act? And if sin does disappear, what would the consequences be? FutureProofing presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson find out how technology is changing our understanding of morality, and how social changes may create the circumstances for radically different moral values in future. Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

42mins

7 Jun 2017

Rank #5

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Animals

FutureProofing presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson find out what might happen when we properly understand animals and how much our relationship with them will change in future. They meet elephants in California, learn about "talking" dolphins in Florida, and discover the technological possibilities that could completely transform what we think of and how we act towards animals in future. From the possibilities of enhancing animals with technology, to ending all farming and finding a new way to grow animal protein that would do away with all slaughter, could the future herald greater equality between sentient creatures on our planet? Will humans and animals develop a partnership of equals? Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

43mins

10 May 2018

Rank #6

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Faith

FutureProofing presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson put their faith - and lack of faith - to the test in a journey from the Middle East to Silicon Valley, to find out how technology is disrupting the beliefs and practices of traditional faiths. They also discover how data and tech might provide the foundations for what influential thinkers like Yuval Noah Harari have dubbed a 'New Religion' for the 21st century and beyond. FutureProofing: Faith includes encounters with leading thinkers such as Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks; a leading member of President Trump's Evangelical Advisory Panel Robert Jeffress; and the world's most prominent humanist Professor Stephen Pinker. They reveal how traditional faiths and secularists are facing the challenge from technology. As the potential of technology to both explain the universe and deliver incredible power develops. so many of the features and promises we have found in older religions are being provided for and challenged by tech. From mind-uploading which offers the prospect of immortality and resurrection to algorithms that could suggest exact optimum life choices for us according to our genes and social circumstances. FutureProofing's presenters learn how the functions of religion could be taken over by technology and the search for the meaning of life be challenged by the accelerating pace of science. Are data and technology about to supplant the traditional sources of faith and information about ultimate meaning in our world? And will this mean a very different kind of faith emerges in future? Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

43mins

2 May 2018

Rank #7

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Sport

Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson investigate the future of sport in the digital age. How will physical activity and organised sport be viewed in the years to come?FutureProofing looks at how new technology could change not just what it means to be an athlete but also athletes' actual bodies, and asks what role sports will play in our culture in the decades ahead.Producer: Faizal Farook.

42mins

6 Feb 2017

Rank #8

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The Future of the Future

Does the accelerating pace of technology change the way we think about the future?It's said that science fiction writers now spend more time telling stories about today than about tomorrow, because the potential of existing technology to change our world is so rich that there is no need to imagine the future - it's already here. Does this mean the future is dead? Or that we are experiencing a profound shift in our understanding of what the future means to us, how it arrives, and what forces will shape it? Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore how our evolving understanding of time and the potential of technological change are transforming the way we think about the future. Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

42mins

3 May 2017

Rank #9

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Small

Discover how small things will significantly shape the future. From sub-atomic particles to small data and small politics, the small will affect the future in a big way. Presenters Leo Johnson and Timandra Harkness explore the world of the tiniest things, and learn about the power they hold to transform manufacturing, computers and the chances of artificial intelligence emerging in the next few decades. The programme explores how human society might be changed by the growing influence of small politics and the application of small data, and unlocks the secrets of the quantum universe. Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

42mins

31 May 2017

Rank #10

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Art

Art may not survive the 21st century as a separate, meaningful category - according to one of the UK's foremost art teachers. Both cultural change and massively increased accessibility to the tools with which to create will have a huge impact on the nature of art itself. Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore the impact that technological change will have on art, and speak to artists at the forefront of the digital revolution.Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

42mins

18 Jan 2017

Rank #11

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Cities

Presenters Leo Johnson and Timandra Harkness discover how new forms of city living could dominate the 21st century. How will our cities look and feel, and what will life be like in the transformed cities of the future?Current forecasts indicate that as many as 70% of the world's population will be living in cities by 2030, up from around 55% today. FutureProofing examines the big shifts in our societies that may follow from the rapid growth in urban living, and what the digital revolution will bring to the way cities are designed and governed. The programme visits Singapore to experience some of the features which cities of the 21st century may adopt, such as self-driving vehicles and ubiquitous data monitoring of all residents' movements. Will this reduce or enhance the freedom of citizens in future? Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

42mins

11 Jan 2017

Rank #12

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Work

Presenters Leo Johnson and Timandra Harkness discover how our society will change when machines do most of the work. What happens when automation becomes very widespread at work?Current economic forecasts from even cautious places like the Bank of England and the World Bank suggest that very large numbers of people will be affected when many jobs are automated in the next 50 years. FutureProofing examines the big shifts in our societies that may follow widespread adoption of machines in every category of jobs in future. The programme visits Singapore to learn how their ambitious plans could soon convert many jobs into ones done by robots.Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

43mins

4 Jan 2017

Rank #13

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Intimacy

Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson investigate how intimacy will change in the 21st century. Can intimacy survive the erosion of privacy within our culture? FutureProofing reveals how new technology offers opportunities to support and develop close personal relationships, but also how it threatens to radically change what we understand as intimacy and how we manage it in future.Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

42mins

28 Dec 2016

Rank #14

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The Future of War

Technology threatens to transform warfare more than almost any other human activity. But what does the future of war look like in the 21st century? Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson hear from those helping to design and build new weapons systems, experts in military strategy and defence policy, and those like veteran war photographer Don McCullin who have experienced the full horror of war, to explore what might change when the technology revolution of today is applied to the conflicts of the century ahead. Producer: Jonathan Brunert.

43mins

1 Jun 2016

Rank #15