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Science & Medicine
Social Sciences

Flash Forward

Updated 13 days ago

Science & Medicine
Social Sciences
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Flash Forward is a show about possible (and not so possible) future scenarios. What would the warranty on a sex robot look like? How would diplomacy work if we couldn’t lie? Could there ever be a fecal transplant black market? (Complicated, it wouldn’t, and yes, respectively, in case you’re curious.) Hosted and produced by award winning science journalist Rose Eveleth, each episode combines audio drama and journalism to go deep on potential tomorrows, and uncovers what those futures might really be like. The future is going to be weird, so let's get ready for it together.

Read more

Flash Forward is a show about possible (and not so possible) future scenarios. What would the warranty on a sex robot look like? How would diplomacy work if we couldn’t lie? Could there ever be a fecal transplant black market? (Complicated, it wouldn’t, and yes, respectively, in case you’re curious.) Hosted and produced by award winning science journalist Rose Eveleth, each episode combines audio drama and journalism to go deep on potential tomorrows, and uncovers what those futures might really be like. The future is going to be weird, so let's get ready for it together.

iTunes Ratings

1048 Ratings
Average Ratings
900
80
30
15
23

Hard to stop listening too

By Open minded people enlightenin - Jul 17 2019
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Makes you want to keep coming back for more.

great show!

By Urkle-bot Murder Plot - Jun 16 2019
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a creative and clever way to learn about the future in an educational way. love every episode

iTunes Ratings

1048 Ratings
Average Ratings
900
80
30
15
23

Hard to stop listening too

By Open minded people enlightenin - Jul 17 2019
Read more
Makes you want to keep coming back for more.

great show!

By Urkle-bot Murder Plot - Jun 16 2019
Read more
a creative and clever way to learn about the future in an educational way. love every episode
Cover image of Flash Forward

Flash Forward

Updated 13 days ago

Read more

Flash Forward is a show about possible (and not so possible) future scenarios. What would the warranty on a sex robot look like? How would diplomacy work if we couldn’t lie? Could there ever be a fecal transplant black market? (Complicated, it wouldn’t, and yes, respectively, in case you’re curious.) Hosted and produced by award winning science journalist Rose Eveleth, each episode combines audio drama and journalism to go deep on potential tomorrows, and uncovers what those futures might really be like. The future is going to be weird, so let's get ready for it together.

Rank #1: EARTH: The Ocean Farm

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Today we travel to a future where fisheries collapse world wide, and we turn the ocean into a giant farm. 

Guests:Actors:→ → → Further reading, images, resources here. ← ←←

Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.
Get in touch:  Twitter // Facebook // Reddit // info@flashforwardpod.com
Support the show: Patreon // Donorbox
Subscribe: iTunes // Soundcloud // Spotify
Sponsored by PNAS Science Sessions: Subscribe on iTunes today

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Apr 02 2019
57 mins
Play

Rank #2: A Womb Away From Home

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What happens when women no longer have to physically bear children? Who wins? Who loses? Who takes artificial wombs to a far away planet to create a colony of super-beings?

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May 12 2015
13 mins
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Rank #3: Extra! Extra!

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This week we travel to a future where there is so much fake news that nobody can tell what is real anymore. Are we already there? What happens next?

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Dec 06 2016
31 mins
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Rank #4: Under The Sea

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In the 1960's, the United States spent millions of dollars exploring two different realms: outer space, and the deep oceans. But today, only one of those programs is still around. Why do space colonies seem more likely than underwater cities? And what does it take to build a settlement on the sea floor?

Guests:
Ben Hellwarth, journalist and author of SEALAB: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor
Jim Fourqurean, professor of Marine Science at Florida International University and the director of the Center for Coastal Oceans Research
Roger Garcia, operations director at Aquarius Reef Base
Katherine Sammler, assistant professor at California State University Maritime in the department of Global Studies & Maritime Affairs

Further Reading/Watching:
The Silent World
JFK's Moon Shot speech
JFK 1961 remarks on the ocean
JFK Address at the Anniversary Convocation of the National Academy of Sciences, 22 October 1963
SEALAB: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor
To Tell The Truth featuring Bob Barth
I have lived underwater
Medina Aquarius Program
From the Ocean’s Abyss to the Vacuum of Space: Privatization in the Vertical Commons
National Governance Of Ocean Volumes
Subsuming the Submerged: Producing Seabeds as Political Territories.
Knowing the Abyss: Seeking Geographies of Ocean Space.
The Deep Pacific: Island Governance and Seabed Mineral Development.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Credits:
Produced by me, Rose Eveleth.
The intro music: Asura
Outtro music: Hussalonia.
Voices of the future this episode: Stephen Granade and Andrea Klunder.
Episode art: Matt Lubchansky.
Get in touch at info@flashforwardpod.com.
Support the show.
Rate & review on Apple Podcasts.
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

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Jul 31 2018
59 mins
Play

Rank #5: The Moon is a Harsh Second Mistress

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What would happen if the Earth suddenly had a second moon? This week, we work through the impact an additional satellite would have on our planet, from tides, to the night sky, to the potential destruction of Earth. Oh also there are space pirates.

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May 19 2015
15 mins
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Rank #6: Robocrop

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Today’s episode is about a future where nobody works on farms anymore, all farming is done by robots. It might be closer than you think.

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Jan 03 2017
35 mins
Play

Rank #7: You’ve Got Brainmail

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In our last episode of the season, we take one one of the most requested futures: telepathy! What would it be like to be able to link minds, and communicate brain to brain? And how likely is it that we’ll ever get this kind of technology? 

 We start the episode by talking to Roger Luckhurst, a Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, who explains where the word telepathy comes from, and how it totally obsessed men of science in the early 1800’s. Then, futurist and science fiction author Ramez Naam walks us through both the current state of science and the futuristic world of his science fiction series Nexus, that centers around a drug that gives people telepathic powers. After that, we consider what a future full of telepathic people might mean for etiquette with Robin Abrahams, the etiquette columnist for the Boston Globe. And then we talk privacy and digital security with Kit Walsh, a a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. And we finish out the episode by talking to Lateef McLeod, a poet, blogger, activist and doctoral student in the anthropology and social change program at California Institute for Integral Studies, about how those with complex communication needs might appreciate a new form of communication.

 Further reading: Science & history

 The Neurologist Who Hacked His Brain -- And Almost Lost His Mind
 When “I” becomes “We”: ethical implications of emerging brain-to-brain interfacing technologies
 Conscious Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans Using Non-Invasive Technologies
 Brain-to-Brain Interfaces: When Reality Meets Science Fiction
 The invention of telepathy, 1870-1901 by Roger Luckhurst
 Telepathy and literature: essays on the reading mind by Nicholas Royle
 “First Report of the Literary Committee by W.F. Barrett, C.C. Massey, Rev. W. Stainton Moses, Frank Podmore…. In Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research” 
 Phenomena: the secret history of the U.S. government's investigations into extrasensory perception and psychokinesis by Annie Jacobsen
 The 120-Year-Old Mind-Reading Machine
 The Future of Human Evolution | Ray Kurzweil Q & A | Singularity University
 Science Gave My Son the Gift of Sound
 Understanding Deafness: Not Everyone Wants to Be 'Fixed'
 Memory Implant Gives Rats Sharper Recollection
 Building the Bionic Brain
 A cortical neural prosthesis for restoring and enhancing memory
 Computing Arm Movements with a Monkey Brainet
 A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Real-Time Sharing of Sensorimotor Information
 The Ultimate Interface: Your Brain
 Reconstructing visual experiences from brain activity evoked by natural movies
 Facilitation and restoration of cognitive function in primate prefrontal cortex by a neuroprosthesis that utilizes minicolumn-specific neural firing
 Protect Your Right to Repair and Control the Devices in Your Life
 Defend Your Right to Repair!

 Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

 If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool.

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Jan 09 2018
50 mins
Play

Rank #8: How is Babby (Not) Made

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What happens when everybody has 100% control over when they do or don’t have babies? We got to a world with perfect and accessible birth control. You asked for a utopia, and this is as close as we're going to get!

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Nov 03 2016
38 mins
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Rank #9: Money For Nothing

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What if we just gave everybody money? It sounds simple, but universal basic income is a trendy idea right now and a lot of you have asked for an episode about a future where everybody gets money from the government no matter what. And it turns out that while it sounds simple, just giving everybody money is way more complicated than you might thing.
Guests:→→ Further Reading Here ←←

Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The human voice from the future was provided by Daniel Tannenbaum. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky
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Sep 25 2018
53 mins
Play

Rank #10: BODIES: Ghostbot

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Today we travel to a future where dying isn’t the end. What if you could live on as a simulation? A bot that knows everything you’ve ever said, and can pretend to be you?

🚨 BECOME A PATRON BEFORE JUNE 30TH AND GET A SPECIAL REWARD! 🚨

Guests:
James Vlahos — journalist & author of Talk to Me: How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Think
Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad — research scientist at KenSci, Inc, professor of computer science at University of Washington
Anita Hannig — professor of anthropology at Brandeis University
Joy Butler — attorney

→ → → Further reading on today’s episode can be found here ← ← ←

Actors:Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

Get in touch:  Twitter // Facebook // Reddit // info@flashforwardpod.com

Support the show: Patreon // Donorbox

Subscribe: iTunes // Soundcloud // Spotify

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Jun 11 2019
57 mins
Play

Rank #11: The Very Big Sick

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In 1918, the Spanish flu killed four to five percent of the entire global population. Infectious disease experts all agree that another pandemic is coming. It's when, not if. But are we ready for it? Today's episode explores what happens when a pandemic strikes, what the most likely candidates are, and whether or not the world is ready.

Guests:
Ed Yong, science writer at The Atlantic
Nahid Bhadelia, assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine and the Medical Director of Special Pathogens Unit (SPU) at Boston Medical Center
Laura Spinney, science writer and author of Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World
Nicola Twilley, co-host of Gastropod and author of a forthcoming book on quarantine

Further Reading:
The Next Plague is Coming. Is America Ready?
Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World
Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being by Harold Napoleon
Strengthening Health Systems While Responding to a Health Crisis: Lessons Learned by a Nongovernmental Organization During the Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic in Sierra Leone
Medicine’s Long, Thin Supply Chain
What Bill Gates Fears Most
Predicting virus emergence amid evolutionary noise
Nebraska’s Biocontainment Unit
The Terrifying Lessons of a Pandemic Simulation
Clade X Livestream
CDC Director: Why I Don’t Support A Travel Ban To Combat The Ebola Outbreak
Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism
How prepared is the world for the next epidemic? This tool shows most countries are not.

Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The voices from the future this episode were provided by Paul Krueger, Sean Raines, and Sameer Ajmani. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

Get in touch: Twitter, Facebook, info@flashforwardpod.com. 

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Jul 03 2018
56 mins
Play

Rank #12: Love On The Brain

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This episode, we travel to a future where your romantic partners aren’t chosen by questions or swipes, but rather by your brainwaves.

 This future is based on an idea from Shelly Ronan and Ernesto D. Morales and their project Object Solutions. If you liked what you heard about Object Solutions you should check out their other work, and their Patreon page. 

 I also talked to Suzanne Dikker, who has used EEG headsets to study everything from education, to Marina Abramovic’s art, to compatability. 

 And to get a true expert position on dating apps, I talked to Andrea Silenzi from the podcast Why Oh Why. If you’re interested in the intersection between sex, dating, relationships and technology, check out her show. 

 Other things to read:

 The Mutual Wave Project by Suzanne Dikker
 ‘EEG Dating’ matches people based on their brainwave data
 This Tinder Hands-Free App Makes Dating Decisions by Reading Heartbeats
 This Tinder-Swiping Biometric Love Robot Knows Who Your Body Wants

 Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. By the way, check out Matt's new animated web series over at Topic. 

 If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. I love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. 

 And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to Apple Podcasts and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. 

 That’s all for this future, come back next month and we’ll travel to a new one.

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Jul 05 2017
32 mins
Play

Rank #13: Fitness in a Bottle

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Some people love going to the gym. Some people hate it. But what if there was a pill that could replace exercise? Today’s future might actually be closer than you think.

Today’s guests:

Nicola Twilley, co-host of Gastropod and New Yorker writer
David Eveleth, my dad and biotech expert
Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, historian and co-host of Past Present
Sigmund Loland, philosopher of sports at Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
Casey Johnston, editor at The Outline, author of Ask a Swole Woman
Robert, my boyfriend

Further reading can be found here, including background documents, research papers, suggested books and more.
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Apr 24 2018
54 mins
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Rank #14: EARTH: The Cement Ban

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Today we travel to a future where we try to break up with cement. Can it be done? How did cement because so ubiquitous? And what’s so bad about cement in the first place? Guests:→ → → Further reading & full transcript ← ← ←

Actors:Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.
Get in touch:  Twitter // Facebook // Reddit // info@flashforwardpod.com
Support the show: Patreon // Donorbox
Subscribe: iTunes // Soundcloud // Spotify
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Mar 26 2019
52 mins
Play

Rank #15: EARTH: The Polar Flip

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Today we travel to a future where the Earth’s magnetic poles reverse.

→ → → Further reading available here ← ← ←

Guests:Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

Join the Listener Facebook Group!

Get in touch:  Twitter // Facebook // Reddit // info@flashforwardpod.com
Support the show: Patreon // Donorbox // Buy Some Merch
Subscribe: iTunes // Soundcloud // Spotify // wherever you get your podcasts! 

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Mar 12 2019
57 mins
Play

Rank #16: EARTH: The Sunshade

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We're back! Did you miss me? Don't answer that please. Today's episode kicks off Season FIVE of Flash Forward. This year, I'm doing things a little bit differently. Instead of doing a new episode every other week, you're getting little mini-seasons. Each little block of five episodes will come out weekly, and center around a theme. This week we're starting our EARTH series. Five episodes, five different future Earths. Buckle up, I hope you're ready for some fun. And some terror. This is Flash Forward after all.

Today we travel to a future where humanity decides to pull the climate emergency break, and spray sulphuric acid into the upper atmosphere.

Guests
Anthony Jones, climate model researcher at University of Exeter
Jane Flegal, climate science and policy advisor, program officer at The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust
Kate Marvel, climate scientist at Columbia University and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Romaric Odoulami, climate scientist at the University of Cape Town
Prakash Kashwan, political scientist at the University of Connecticut 

Actors
The Snowglobe Narrator: Brent Rose
Lenny Haywood: Evan Johnson
Farah Mousterian: Zahra Noorbakhsh
John Jacob Siwa: Joseph Jones
Juana Aguilar: Tamara Krinsky
Thor Surtr: Oliver Blank

Special Thanks
Women's Audio Mission studios, Maryam Qudus, Stephanie Lopez
The Potluck Podcast Collective, The Potluck Podcast studio, Quincy Surasmith

Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

Get in touch:  Twitter // Facebook // Reddit // info@flashforwardpod.com

Support the show: Patreon // Donorbox

Thanks to PNAS for supporting Flash Forward. Listen to Science Sessions on iTunes today. 

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Mar 05 2019
53 mins
Play

Rank #17: There’s No Great Future in Plastics

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This episode is all about a world without plastic. What would that look like? Is it even possible? 

 Today, plastic is seen as one of our great environmental enemies. But it actually wasn’t always that way. Bradford Harris, a historian of science and the host of a podcast called How It Began: A History of the Modern World, and Susan Freinkel, a journalist and the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, walk us through how plastic started out as a solution to unsustainable practices. Then we talk to Sherry Lippiatt, California Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, about what exactly is going on with garbage in the ocean. And finally I visit Danielle Trofe at her studio in Brooklyn, where she grows sustainable materials using mushrooms. 

 Further reading:

 Debbie Chachra on peak plastics
 "On a scale beyond all previous conceptions" [electronic resource] : plastics and the preservation of modernity
 Bradford Harris: Plastics and Sustainability
 Our 'Toxic' Love-Hate Relationship With Plastics
 99 Percent Invisible: The Post-Billiards Age
 Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean
 There Is No Island of Trash in the Pacific
 Global Plastic Production Rises, Recycling Lags
 Different Types of Plastics and their Classification
 Health risks posed by use of Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in PVC medical devices: A critical review
 How Stuff Works: bioplastics
 Taxation and Regulation of Plastic Shopping Bags in Botswana and South Africa 
 GROW: A Lamp YOU Grow from Mushroom Mycelium

 Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The voices from the future this episode were provided by Lisa Pollak, Arielle Duhaime-Ross, Brent Rose, Victor Dorff and Mary Beth Griggs. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

 If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. 

 And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! Head to www.flashforwardpod.com/support for more about how to give. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. 

 That’s all for this future, come back next time and we’ll travel to a new one.
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Dec 12 2017
35 mins
Play

Rank #18: Forcing the Hand

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This week’s future is a social experiment. What if Earth had a robotic overlord who decided to ban all weapons? All fights would have to be hand to hand. Would there be less death that way? Less casualties? What counts as a weapon anyway? Listen to the episode to find out!

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May 26 2015
10 mins
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Rank #19: The Commute From Hell

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Getting from one place to another is hard. What if we could just teleport? From the physics of how this would work (it wouldn’t) to the ripple effects it might have on politics, urban development, and tourism, this episode is all about what would happen if we could zip instantly from one place to another.

Guests
Matt Lubchansky, comic artist and associate editor at The Nib
Zeeya Merali, physicist at the Foundational Questions Institute, author of A Big Bang in a Little Room, cohost of the FQXi Podcast
Peter Norton, historian at the University of Virginia, author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City

(Paper from the advertisement: Time to End the Use of Genetic Test Results in Life Insurance Underwriting)

→ → → Sources and more links available here ← ← ←

Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth.
The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia.
The teleportation attendant from the future was played by Tamara Krinsky. Tamara is the host of the science & technology show TOMORROW'S WORLD TODAY, which you can watch on Amazon, right now.
The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool.

And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! Head to www.flashforwardpod.com/support for more about how to give. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. 

That’s all for this future, come back next time and we’ll travel to a new one. 
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Nov 20 2018
49 mins
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Rank #20: The Witch Who Came From Mars

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Today we do something weird, in honor of the end of the second season! Instead of coming up with a future and then finding experts to talk about it, I asked an AI to write a future for us. And the AI apparently wants us to talk about space travel, witches, and the occult.

 So here’s what happened in this episode. I asked Mike Rugnetta, the creator and host of PBS Idea Channel and Reasonably Sound, to help me create a script for Flash Forward. Mike had done this for his own channel a few months ago.

 Around the same time that Idea Channel video came out there was this short film that came out called Sunspring which was written by an AI named Benjamin. The guys behind Benjamin fed a neural network a huge corpus of science fiction scripts, everything from Avatar to Armageddon to Resident Evil to Spiderman. And they asked that AI to write them a script. And then they spent one day with a cast, filming the movie that Benjamin wrote for them. I totally recommend watching it.

 And so I thought, what if, I fed an AI all the future scenes we’ve ever done on this show, and asked it to write one for me? And then, I have to figure out what that future is, and how we would get there. So that’s what we’re going to do on this episode. I compiled all the futures we’ve ever traveled to on this show, and sent them to Mike, and he fed them to this neural network he already had set up to make his video. And he then sent me the results. And what came out that first time was just complete nonsense. Because the system really needs more material than I had to feed it. On the show we’ve traveled to 41 futures, which in the grand scheme of things actually isn’t all that much text. So on top of all the futures we’ve done, I added two big chunks of text: the script for The War of the Worlds, and the script for the 1979 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio play.

 And here’s what the AI wrote. You can see the full script (and leave your interpretation of the AI future) here.

 I will confess that my first thought when I read the script was: “what the hell am I supposed to do with this?” But, I am never one to back down from a challenge, even if that challenge is self imposed, so I sent this little intro to a bunch of smart people, and asked them what future they saw here. 

 First we talk to Miriam Kramer, the senior space reporter at Mashable, about how easy (or hard) it would be for witches to travel to and from Mars. 

 Then I called up Annalee Newitz, to get her take on the witches and how the themes in this scene fit in with the broader science fiction landscape. (Fun fact, Annalee is the person who first asked me to do a podcast for Gizmodo, and thereby birthed Flash Forward! Yay Annalee!)

 Then we turn our attention to the witches, and bring back Damien Williams, who you heard on our episode about conscious AI. Damien writes a lot about technology and the occult (I recommend this 2015 Theorizing the Web panel about it, featuring him and lots of other smart people) and he weighs in on the future of witches, how tech and magic aren’t all that different, and what the AI might mean by “behanding.”

 And last but not least, we talk to the brains and voices behind Spirits Pod, a new podcast about mythology. Julia Schifini and Amanda McLoughlin have been best friends since childhood, and co-host a podcast all about myths and legends that I very much enjoy. And the two of them had all sorts of fun and interesting stuff to say about this witchy future.

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Sep 05 2016
44 mins
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